NEW YORK — The coronavirus pandemic has cracked Hollywood's traditional theatrical window. With
The studio said it will put movies currently in
The move came as
Over the weekend, ticket sales plunged to their lowest levels in at least 20 years at the box office for U.S. and Canadian
"Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in a statement. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in
The extraordinary move marked what could be seen as either a watershed moment for Hollywood or an aberration due to extremely unusual circumstances. With few exceptions, the major studios have guarded the usual 90-day exclusivity window even as digital newcomers like Netflix and Amazon have challenged it. For the studios, box office still represents the industry's primary revenue generator. Last week, the Motion Picture Association said worldwide ticket sales reached $42.2 billion last year.
The National Association of Theater Owners, the trade group that represents movie exhibitors, declined to comment.
NBCUniversal is prepping its own streaming service, dubbed Peacock, but it isn't to launch until July 15. On Sunday, the Walt Disney Co. made “Frozen 2” available on its streaming service, Disney Plus. But that film had already completed its theatrical run. Its digital release didn't break the traditional 90-day theatrical exclusivity window.
Discussing ticket receipts for titles including “The Hunt” and “Invisible Man” on Sunday, Universal's distribution chief Jim Orr called the situation a unique time for the industry. “But we’ll get to the other side of it, and the box office will come back very healthy,” said Orr. "It’s just a matter of when that might be.”
Hollywood has postponed most of its upcoming releases. This week's previously most anticipated movie, “A Quiet Place Part II,” has been removed from the schedule. Other releases, including Disney's “Mulan" and the James Bond film “Die Another Day” have been put off. Universal earlier pushed its latest “Fast and Furious” movie, “F9,” from late May to April of next year.
That means that even if movie
Much of the entertainment world has shut down. Broadway
Festivals including South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and the Tribeca Film Festival in New York have been
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Jake Coyle, The Associated Press