As Covid 19 lockdown continues many of us are searching for options to keep us occupied during this unprecedented event. As a keen film watcher and someone who goes to the cinema multiple times a week it’s giving me the opportunity to catch up on some streaming movies that I’d normally have to block out specific time for on top of seeing new release films in cinema. Just as most cinemas were about to close universal led the way with an unprecedented viewing option. They put up three of their big studios backed theatrical releases for premium price VOD rentals on several different services. They were the 2020 reimagining of The Invisible Man, likeable Jane Austen adaptation Emma and the nowhere near as smart as it thinks it is satirical horror comedy The Hunt. These were at a cost of £16 or $20 in the US. Much as I loved to The Invisible Man and would have been keen to rewatch it £16 as a little bit steep for one person if they are watching a film by themselves especially if the viewer pays for a Cineworld Unlimited subscription or equivalent service. That said if you don’t have one of these passes these rentals are potentially a great investment as any number of viewers can watch the film over a 48-hour period. The most interesting case study was still to come.
With the initial announcement of the Universal films heading the premium VOD they also announced the Trolls: World Tour the sequel to the 2016 DreamWorks film ma would be skipping theatrical premiere and hitting premium VOD on its original release date. As a huge fan of theatrical animation and someone who has seen every DreamWorks and Pixar film in cinemas for the last 16 years this presented an intriguing dilemma for me as a viewer. On the one hand I want to keep the streak going at least having seen every major production from the studio. This would have stopped at Turbo (the largely forgotten D tier entry with Ryan Reynolds voicing a supercharged snail) if I did not have an Unlimited card. I’ve got nothing against the first Trolls. It’s the sort of generally inoffensive DreamWorks production that isn’t so much bad as it is decidedly unmemorable beyond some of the visual design and Can’t Stop the Feeling being so ubiquitous in 2016. That said I have no intention of paying £16 watch it on my own as a 26-year old. If it is playing anyway when cinemas reopen that will enable me to go and see it with my Unlimited card or support my local £5 or independent cinema I will happily give the film a chance. How many more big studio releases will attempt this method of release during lockdown remains to be seen but the two main entries I would definitely be willing to rent from home if Cinemas remain closed (Wonder Woman 1984 and A Quiet Place: Part 2) have had their theatrical releases rescheduled. I’m looking forward to going out, seeing them in cinemas and supporting the theatrical release model I have supported for the last 16 years.