- Universal is taking four of its in-theater pictures and putting them on video on demand. The Hunt, Emma, and The Invisible Man will be available Friday, and Trolls World Tour will be available on April 10, the same day it hits theaters.
- The box office saw a two-decade low over the weekend as people stay home because of the coronavirus. Big chains like AMC and Regal have also announced temporary nationwide closures.
- While theaters are taking the hit right now, streaming could see a 60% boost, according to data tracking firm Neilson.
- But, in the long-term, more remains uncertain as productions are shutting down and financial losses overall for Hollywood are predicted to be incredibly high.
Studios Pick VOD as Theaters Close
As major movie theater chains temporarily shut down nationwide, streaming and video on demand services have the opportunity to see a big boost from quarantine binge-watching.
On Tuesday, AMC and Regal announced they would be temporarily closing their locations as movie theaters see empty seats during the coronavirus pandemic. This comes just a day after Universal opted to take some of its current releases, The Hunt, The Invisible Man, and Emma, and put them on video on demand by the end of the week.
“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.,” Universal said in a statement. The pictures will be available on Friday for a $19.99 48-hour rental. Trolls World Tour will also get to VOD treatment on April 10, the same day it is set to hit big screens.
Trolls Star Anna Kendrick praised the move online, saying she was “happy we can spread the joy while everyone stays safe.”
Many others were also excited that these selections would be made available at home.
Some, on the other hand, were surprised by the price tag.
I would like to see Emma but $20 to stream it?? SERIOUSLY?? Not even to buy but to rent??— Isa-Lee Wolf (@IsaLeeWolf) March 16, 2020
$20 for a RENTAL???— Robert of the Holts ☘️🎬🌎 (@rhholt) March 16, 2020
Universal is not alone in this strategy. Warner Brothers also announced plans to make Birds of Prey available on VOD early as well. Disney+ decided to release family hits like Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on the platform sooner than scheduled. Fans are also calling for Onward, Disney-Pixar’s current release, to hit streaming or VOD early so viewers can get the chance to see it.
Box Office Lows
These choices come as Hollywood has been shaken up by the coronavirus outbreak. It started with big pictures like Mulan and No Time to Die getting delayed, but was quickly followed by a blow to the box office. Last weekend was the worst in two decades, with the box office raking in only roughly $55 million.
Usually, just one movie could probably pull that kind of cash in on its own. For comparison, in mid-March of last year, the highest grossing movie was Captain Marvel, and it made almost $68 million during one weekend. The top five highest grossing movies in mid-March made $113.8 million in one weekend. But theater closures and the practice of social distancing now make those kinds of numbers unattainable.
While all of this means doomsday for theaters and the box office, it does give the upper hand to streaming. According to information from Nielsen, a data measurement firm, staying at home can lead to a 60% increase in media consumption, a figure that directly translates to streaming and television.
Nielsen also says that people who work from home consume, on average, three more hours of television than someone in-office. So, with more employees being told to work remotely, this could create more TV consumption.
Disney+ alone has a lot to gain from this situation, as reports indicate that half of the home in the United States with children under the age of 10 have already subscribed to the service. Not only is this number expected to go up because of quarantines, but the amount children will be consuming because they are home from school is likely to increase as well.
Industry’s Future in Limbo
In the long run, the outbreak could lead to bad news for most facets of the industry. Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon, and other TV and film giants like HBO, Disney and more have halted the productions of their upcoming content. This leaves uncertainty for their slates of new programming and could lead to further delays.
The full impact of this right now is unknown, but according to Wired, Hollywood is on track to lose $20 billion. This number is likely to get even higher the longer this lasts.
Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.
Actress Pushed at Protest
After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights.
Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”
Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.
Sweetin Addresses Incident
Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over.
“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”
Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.
According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter.
“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.
Theater Named Announced
Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title.
The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”
Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”
Chappelle Defends Controversial Special
According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.
Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda.
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said.
“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special.
According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)
Chris Evans Says People Upset With Same-Gender “Lightyear” Kiss Are “Idiots”
The kiss was previously removed from the film until a surge of backlash from Pixar employees prompted Disney to reinstate it.
Chris Evans Supports “Lightyear” Scene
“Lightyear” star Chris Evans is standing against people who have criticized the same-gender kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film.
“The real truth is those people are idiots,” the actor told Reuters this week when discussing negative reactions to the scene’s inclusion.
“The American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” he continued.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and more have banned the release of “Lightyear” over the kiss, which is between two women. Right-wing pundits in the U.S. have also slammed it, and user reviews for the picture on websites like IMDB have claimed that movie-going has “become an avenue for political propaganda.”
Evans argued those opinions are outdated.
“There’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs,” he said. “I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.”
“Lightyear” hits theaters on Friday starring Evans as the titular Buzz Lightyear. Evans, however, is not playing the action figure made famous in the “Toy Story” movies and is instead playing an animated human astronaut who inspired the toy.
Kiss Scene Almost Never Made it to Big Screen
According to outlets that have reviewed the film, the same-gender kiss is between Alisha Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her wife.
Multiple reports have stated that Disney was always supportive of depicting a gay couple in the picture, but was more hesitant about showing an on-screen kiss between the two. The studio previously had the scene removed from the film until a swell of backlash prompted it to reinstate the kiss.
The decision came in March amid criticisms over Disney’s slow response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At the time, a group of Pixar employees wrote an open letter claiming that they have pushed for more inclusion in their films, but “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.”
Now that the scene made the final cut of “Lightyear,” it has been a large topic of conversation leading up to the film’s release. On Monday, Evans told Variety that the inclusion of the scene makes him “happy,” but he hopes one day, scenes like this will be considered standard.
“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion,” he said. “That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is.”