It is expected movies delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic will still release in theaters, not online. As most people know by now, the spread of COVID-19 has greatly affected the entertainment industry, as American movie theater chains close locations indefinitely and several upcoming releases are pushed back. Most recently, Disney delayed the Black Widow premiere, moving the film from its original May 2020 window. A couple of the postponed titles, like No Time to Die and F9, have new dates scheduled, while many of the others will have ones announced at a later time.
With people unable to go to the multiplex as usual, Universal made the radical decision to make their new movies like The Invisible Man and Trolls: World Tour available to rent on-demand for $20. Some wondered if that would be a game-changer, forever altering the traditional theatrical model. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case, and based on the latest comments on the matter, what Universal is doing could be a one-time thing.
In an official statement addressing the COVID-19 outbreak, the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) touched on the possibility of delayed films being released online, rather than hitting theaters. You can read the relevant paragraph in the space below:
Although there has been speculation in the media that the temporary closure of theaters will lead to accelerated or exclusive releases of theatrical titles to home streaming, such speculation ignores the underlying financial logic of studio investment in theatrical titles. To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, these titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world. While one or two releases may forgo theatrical release, it is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal.
This will come as a nice reprieve during a truly difficult time for movie theaters. A number of the films delayed, including A Quiet Place 2, No Time to Die, Black Widow and F9, were all expected to be sizable draws around the world and bring in big business for the theaters. In addition to receiving a percentage of each ticket sold, theaters generate lots of revenue via concessions. If major blockbusters in the Marvel, James Bond, and Fast Saga franchises went straight to on-demand, that would be a huge blow for the theater owners. As AMC, Regal, and all the independent multiplexes look to bounce back months from now when the crisis has passed, it’s comforting for them to know they’ll have some of 2020’s most anticipated movies to lean on for a healthy boost.
When it is deemed safe to open theaters again, odds are people will come out in droves to see the new releases. After being quarantined indoors for an extended period of time, many will appreciate the opportunity to get out and see a movie on the big screen. Part of the appeal of going to huge blockbusters like Black Widow of F9 during opening weekend is to watch the movie with a crowd of other fans and have it be a communal experience. The first mainstream release after the COVID-19 outbreak is going to be a massive event and one audiences will be desperately awaiting. It’s good to know the big titles are going to stay in theaters.
More: Coronavirus: Every Movie and TV Show Production Delayed