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Universal Pictures Announces Plan To Make First-Run Movies Available For Home Rental

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(CelebrityAccess) — In a dramatic revision of the studio release system, Universal Pictures announced that its current slate of movies will be available as on-demand rentals.

Titles will be available for a 48-Hour rental period from NBCUniversal sister companies Comcast and Sky as well as a broad range of on-demand partners, on the same day as their scheduled cinematic release Universal Studios said.

Universal’s release calendar includes DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, which is scheduled to open April 10 in the U.S. and the company hopes that the home rental releases will allow them to leverage their existing marketing spend to boost viewership.

Universal will also make movies that are currently in theatrical release available on-demand starting as early as Friday, March 20. Films include “The Hunt,” “Invisible Man” and “Emma.”

The rentals will provide access to the movie for a period of 48 hours for the suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and for comparable prices in other markets.

As of yet, Universal’s anticipated blockbusters, including “F9” the next installment of the seemingly endless Fast & Furious franchise, have not been included in the list of films to be made available to homebound fans on release day.

“Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers’ daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theaters. NBCUniversal will continue to evaluate the environment as conditions evolve and will determine the best distribution strategy in each market when the current unique situation changes.”

“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception. Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable,” said Shell. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible.”

The shift to immediate streaming availability for new movies is a dramatic step from Hollywood, which has long sought to protect the status of cinemas as the only (legal) place to view first-run movies.

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