Birds of Prey VOD Rental

Usually when movies become available for VOD rental, it’s day-and-date with the release of the movie on Blu-ray and DVD, typically between 75 and 90 days after a movie has been released in theaters. But in the time of coronavirus, the traditional window for these kind of releases has been drastically shaken up.

Birds of Prey was one of the movies that arrived rather early on VOD after movie theaters were shut down in March, taking a bite out of the box office haul it wold have taken in (even if it may not have been that high after being in theaters over a month). However, unlike Universal’s VOD releases of The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma, Warner Bros. only made Birds of Prey available for digital purchase at $19.99, and no rental option was available. But that changes today, and it won’t cost as much.

If you head to your preferred digital movie retailer, you’ll see that the Birds of Prey VOD rental is now available for $5.99. For some reason, many outlets are reporting this update as if Warner Bros. has dropped the premium rental price after trying it out for a couple weeks. But Birds of Prey was never made available for digital rental at $19.99. In fact, when the film’s early arrival for purchase on VOD was announced by Variety, the trade even noted that the movie would be available for rental in April.

The real story here is that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has broken the traditional VOD rental window. For awhile now, major studio movies become available for digital purchase a couple weeks before they hit Blu-ray and DVD, but they’re not available for rental at that time. It’s when a movie is released on Blu-ray and DVD that a movie becomes available for digital rental. But in this case, with the Blu-ray and DVD release of Birds of Prey slated for May 12, the movie is hitting VOD rental over a month early.

The inaccurate reporting seems like the continued effort from the entertainment media to paint Birds of Prey as a box office failure. Director Cathy Yan even noticed the negative angle that many media outlets were quick to jump on, recently telling The Hollywood Reporter:

“I know that the studio had really high expectations for the movie — as we all did. There were also undo expectations on a female-led movie, and what I was most disappointed in was this idea that perhaps it proved that we weren’t ready for this yet. That was an extra burden that, as a woman-of-color director, I already had on me anyway. So, yes, I think there were certainly different ways you could interpret the success or lack of success of the movie, and everyone has a right to do that. But, I definitely do feel that everyone was pretty quick to jump on a certain angle.”

But as it stands, Birds of Prey has made over $201 million at the worldwide box office on a reported budget of $84.5 million. While Warner Bros. Pictures was hoping for a better box office turnout, that’s not bad at all for an R-rated movie, especially following something as messy as Suicide Squad. Plus, with the $5.99 price tag, the movie is sitting pretty in the #1 spot on the iTunes movies chart right now.

It should be noted that movies like Bloodshot and Sonic the Hedgehog, recent theatrical releases that are also currently available for digital purchase but not rental, are still priced at $19.99. But Sonic the Hedgehog came out a week after Birds of Prey, and Bloodshot arrived on March 13, making it the last major theatrical release before the coronavirus chaos really took off and forced the closure of movie theaters around the country. So perhaps we’ll see those movies become available for rental soon too.

Don’t forget, the real innovator coming up this week is the VOD premiere of Trolls World Tour, a movie that was intended to be released in theaters this weekend, but is now being released first for digital rental at a premium rental price of $19.99. Movie theater owners aren’t too happy about Universal’s decision to release the movie this way, and it could very well shake things up for certain theatrical releases in the future. But at this point, we’ll have to wait and see how the industry recovers after all the coronavirus stuff is behind us, and it’s not yet clear when that will be.

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