downhill review

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic grows and more businesses and movie theaters close, Hollywood studios have been left with nowhere to drop their theatrical releases. While some studios chose to delay their biggest feature films until the worst of the pandemic passes, a few studios decided to break the monotony of everyone’s self-isolation (and help keep a few kids entertained) by releasing their theatrical films on digital platforms early. Most films available to buy digitally about 74 days after they first arrive in theaters, but studios are breaking that tradition by releasing their films on VOD mere weeks after, or even on the same day of, the theatrical debut.

Here is an ongoing list of the films that have been or will be released early.

For Digital Rental or Purchase

Trolls World Tour – April 10

Universal changed the game by announcing the day-and-date release of Trolls World Tour, which was originally set to hit only theaters on April 10. But earlier this week, the studio announced that Trolls World Tour would be made available on-demand on the same day it hits theaters.

The Call of the Wild – March 27

Walt Disney Studios announced that the 20th Century Studios’ The Call of the Wild will be available to buy digitally and on Movies Anywhere for $14.99 beginning March 27 in the U.S. The release of the Harrison Ford-starring adventure flick comes a little more than a month after it hit theaters on February 21.

Downhill – March 27

Searchlight Pictures’ Downhill will be available to buy digitally and on Movies Anywhere beginning March 27 in the U.S. for $9.99. The remake of the Swedish dark comedy Force Majeure, which stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, hit theaters on February 14.

I Still Believe – March 27

Lionsgate’s faith-based drama, based on the real life of Christian music star Jeremy Camp and his wife’s struggle with cancer, is hitting video-on-demand on March 27, according to Exhibitor Relations. It’s VOD debut comes just two weeks after it hit theaters on March 13, when it was one of the few films to come out all right from the historically low box office weekend.

Birds of Prey – March 24

In what almost seemed like a response to Universal’s VOD announcements (or at least to director Cathy Yan’s enthusiasm for the move), Warner Bros. announced that Birds of Prey will be available for digital purchase on March 24, for $19.99 to buy on platforms such as Amazon, FandangoNOW, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. The film will be available to rent on April 7 on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles. That means Birds of Prey will be available only 46 days after its initial theatrical release on February 7.

Just Mercy – March 24

The same day as its Birds of Prey announcement, Warner Bros. made the Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx legal drama Just Mercy available to buy digitally — way earlier than planned for the true-story drama released on December 25. However, if you’re waiting to rent the movie digital on VOD, it will be available starting on March 24.

The Gentlemen – March 24

Fandango reported that the Guy Ritchie-directed crime caper would be available for digital purchase on March 24 alongside Birds of Prey.  The Gentlemen will be available 60 days after it hit theaters on January 24.

The Way Back – March 24

A few days after Warner Bros. announced the surprise digital release of Birds of Prey, the studio set the Ben Affleck inspirational sport drama’s digital debut for March 24. That is a little more than three weeks after The Way Back hit theaters on March 6. The film will be available on VOD in both the U.S. and Canada.

Bloodshot – March 24

Less than two weeks after it hit theaters, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot will be available for digital purchase starting March 24. That’s less than a two-week turnaround time for Sony, which is almost unheard of. But it’s expected after the disastrous box office weekend that Bloodshot opened to, despite being apparently the last film to hit theaters ever.

Saint Frances – March 21

Independent movies are getting in on digital releases as well, with Oscilloscope participating in a profit split with a/perture cinema (an independently owned arthouse theater in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) for Saint Frances, which follows a deadbeat nanny (Kelly O’Sullivan) who befriends the 6-year-old she’s hired to watch. Unlike the other major releases, Saint Frances won’t be available on your regular digital platforms, instead you can go here to pay $11.50 for a private link to watch it.

Onward – March 20

In one of the quickest theatrical-to-digital turnarounds, Disney announced that the Pixar animated film Onward would be available for digital purchase for $19.99 on March 20 at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST. The animated fantasy adventure’s digital release comes merely two weeks after it hit theaters on March 6.

The Invisible Man – March 20

Along with its game-changing announced for the day-and-date release of Trolls World Tour, Universal announced that the Elisabeth Moss-starring horror film The Invisible Man would be available 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” on March 20. The film, directed by Leigh Whannel, would hit VOD only three weeks after it premiered in theaters on February 28.

Emma. – March 20

The Focus Features period piece, which falls under Universal, will also be available for the “48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets” on March 20. Anya Taylor-Joy stars in the Jane Austen adaptation directed by Autumn de Wilde, which initially hit limited theaters on February 21 — making its VOD debut also only three weeks later.

The Hunt – March 20

Universal’s The Hunt has the shortest window between its theatrical debut and its VOD release: only 7 days after its March 13 release. Like the two previous films, the controversial Craig Zobel thriller will be available for the “48-hour rental period at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and the price equivalent in international markets.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – March 13

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was made available for purchase digitally on iTunes and Vudu on March 13 — four days before its intended for release on digital platforms on March 17.

On Streaming

Onward – April 3

In the second part of its surprise announcement, Disney announced that Onward‘s early VOD release would be followed two weeks later by its Disney+ debut. Onward will be available to watch on the Disney-owned streaming service on April 3, an unprecedented four weeks after its theatrical release.

The Lovebirds – April 3

The Lovebirds’ theatrical release was hit hard by coronavirus — first the Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae-starring comedy’s world premiere at the South by Southwest film festival was canceled, then it was pulled from its April 3 release date by Paramount Pictures. But now The Lovebirds will be available to all Netflix subscribers on its original theatrical release date, April 3. This is not the first time Paramount has pulled this trick with its theatrical release, famously dropping The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix back in 2018.

Frozen 2 – March 15

Frozen 2 arrived on Disney+ early on March 15,  three months before the animated musical sequel otherwise would have arrived on the streaming service. In a press release, the studio said they wanted to give families “some fun and joy during this challenging period.” For the many families having to deal with kids bored at home, this probably a godsend.

Big Time Adolescence – March 13

The Pete Davidson drama which earned a positive reception at last year’s Sundance Film Festival hit theaters on March 13 and was initially supposed to begin streaming on Hulu on March 20. But Big Time Adolescence suddenly debuted on Hulu on the same day of its theatrical release, a week earlier than it was scheduled to.

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