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The entertainment industry is scrambling to figure out how to handle the coronavirus outbreak situation. With movie theaters closed and new movie releases delayed, the entire focus of the movie business has shifted to digital releases. Now many movies are hitting digital much earlier than previously anticipated and now another film is going to hit video-on-demand in record time, though considering how fast he usually goes, maybe we should have seen this coming.
Sonic the Hedgehog was just released in theaters in mid-February, and was doing well so it almost certainly would be in theaters right now, if there were any theaters to be in, of course. The major theater chains held out as long as possible, drastically reducing capacity to try and handle the coroavirus without actually closing, but eventually there was simply no choice.
With Sonic the Hedgehog revealing a May date for its physical Blu-ray release, you have something of an idea when the movie was supposed to hit digital. Digital releases usually come no more than a couple weeks before the physical release, so the Sonic movie was likely expecting to hit digital in early May. Under the circumstances, ramping up production of the Blu-ray early isn't feasible. And also, buying the thing wouldn't be that easy anyway.
It's not all that surprising that Sonic the Hedgehog is making itself available digitally right now, considering a host of movies that were even newer in theaters have also done the same thing. The Invisible Man, Bloodshot and other films that were basically brand new in theaters are available for online rental. Sonic, however, will be available for normal digital purchase.
Trolls World Tour is already set to have a simultaneous opening digitally and in theaters, though that assumes theaters will be open when that movie arrives in early April, which is far from a sure thing right now.
Sonic the Hedgehog will be a good addition to many digital lineups. It's a solid family film and with so many kids stuck at home with school's closed, it's just the sort of thing that might help in keeping them entertained under the circumstances.
Of course, at some point we're going to run out of new movies digitally in the same way that we're out of movies in the theater. Of course, if this early digital release thing is successful, we could see movies doing this on a regular basis going forward. It will be very interesting to see how many of these emergency measures fade away once things return to normal and how many stay around for a long time.