Here’s another example of how the coronavirus situation is impacting an entertainment industry: it’s smashing through Hollywood’s ‘theatrical window’ – the period at which new films are only available to watch in cinemas.
Studio NBCUniversal announced yesterday that its current slate of new films will be made available for on-demand (digital) rental at the same time they debut in cinemas.
“Movies will be made available on a wide variety of on-demand services for a 48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets,” reported The Hollywood Reporter. “Insiders say it isn’t a blanket policy for the studio’s entire 2020 calendar and that decisions regarding other titles and the duration of the policy haven’t been made yet.”
It’s a sensible (and, indeed, the only) policy at a time when cinemas are closing around the world due to governments’ and public health organisations’ advice on social distancing and self isolation.
The studios – assuming others follow NBCUniversal’s lead – will be very keen to reestablish the theatrical window when the social restrictions are removed. Whether film fans agree may be a challenge for that industry to face.