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The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do a lot of things. How we interact with each other, how often we leave the house, and even how we think about the world -- it’s all changed. It’s also forced the film industry to pivot quickly and try to figure out how to keep fans engaged (and paying) when they can’t go to the movies. And with an early home release, Bad Boys For Life is the latest film to break the mold for Hollywood.
Sony Pictures announced that the blockbuster action film, which hit theaters on January 17, will be available on digital platforms on March 31. That’s barely two months after its initial cinematic release, yet t’s not the quickest turnaround we’ve seen so far.
Films like The Invisible Man, Emma, Birds of Prey and Onward have also snagged early home releases, even though they came out just weeks ago. It is, however, a sign that movie studios may become more aggressive about getting fans to purchase digital versions of their films while the pandemic rages on.
Bad Boys For Life is easily one of the biggest hits of 2020. It is the first film to cross $200 million at the domestic box office, and it proved to have some considerable staying power in theaters around the country.
It’s too early to tell if that popularity will crossover into the home viewing space. But the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led sequel, which packs tons of thrills, twists, and laughs, is definitely the kind of escapism some movie fans may be looking for right now.
Early VOD releases are just one of the methods that Hollywood studios are trying to keep the industry afloat. Disney paved the way when it announced it was releasing Frozen II early on Disney+, and others quickly followed. In some cases, they’re releasing films that didn’t even hit theaters yet, like Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae’s Lovebirds. Dreamworks is also planning to release Trolls World Tour simultaneously in theaters and on demand on April 10 (that is, if theaters will be open by then).
These decisions stand in contrast to how studios originally approached their late winter and early spring release dates once coronavirus began to spread. No Time to Die, F9 and Mulan are among the huge releases that have been pushed back for several months. That alone is indicative of how quickly things have changed since the pandemic began. At this point, there are varying reports of how long this crisis could continue. It stands to reason that as long as there are calls for social distancing and self quarantining, movie studios will be reluctant to resume cinematic releases. Also, since production on both film and television has been largely postponed for the time being, studios may need to begin to reconsider their release schedules for the foreseeable future. In other words, it looks like we’re gonna be doing this whole “quarantine and chill” thing for a while.