NBCUniversal Speeds “The Invisible Man” and “The Hunt” to Home Viewers

How it will affect the studio's other planned releases remains to be seen

Still from "The Invisible Man"
"The Invisible Man" will be made available for home viewing earlier than expected.
NBCUniversal
By Tobias Carroll / March 17, 2020 12:44 pm

If you’ve followed Netflix’s feud with movie theater chains over the last couple of years, you’re probably familiar with the notion of the theatrical window. A November 2019 article from The New York Times offered a succinct description of how it works. “The major exhibitors typically insist on a 72-day period of exclusivity for the films that play on their screens,” wrote Nicole Sperling.

With movie theaters around the nation closing down or dramatically reducing their capacity due to coronavirus infection concerns, that’s changed. An article by Pamela McClintock at The Hollywood Reporter notes that NBCUniversal is eliminating the theatrical window — at least temporarily — for some of its films. Movies like The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma. will soon be available to watch at home, possibly by the end of this week.

McClintock writes that the studio is weighing their options regarding future releases later in the year:

The announcement was made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. 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.

This move from NBCUniversal isn’t the only one of its ilk. Disney also shortened the theatrical window by making Frozen 2 available on its Disney+ streaming service ahead of schedule, and also opted to make Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker available for home viewing earlier than planned.

In the THR article, McClintock speculates that the size of the films involved in NBCUniversal’s move might also play a role. “The delays suggest that studios are still reluctant to make their biggest tentpoles available immediately in the home via SVOD or on streaming services, but that thinking could change if the pandemic lasts months,” she writes. The full extent to which the coronavirus will affect how we watch movies remains to be seen, but we might be getting a sense of it now.

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