Alexandria, VA – It’s many weeks now since the threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus capsized everyday life. The film industry was immediately impacted. Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, revealed they tested positive for the virus while in Australia at work on Hanks’ latest project, a film about Elvis Presley. (They have since recovered and returned to the United States.)
The much-anticipated release of the latest James Bond flick, with Daniel Craig returning as 007 in No Time to Die, was moved from April 3 to sometime in November.
Prior to its release, A Quiet Place 2 was to be shown in a back-to-back preview with the original A Quiet Place at AMC Hoffman. Its March 18 release has been postponed to an undisclosed date.
Social distancing and industrial-grade cleaning is simply not feasible for multiplex theaters. Even the nearly extinct single-screen theaters were resigned to going dark, while the evermore scarce drive-in theaters briefly found renewed popularity. With the curtains down and Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Apple TV’s menus exhausted, what is the avid cinephile to do?
AMC On Demand to the rescue! AMC Stubs members (join for free) now have the option of screening first-run releases that would otherwise be showing wing in theaters that are shut down due to social distancing, customer-count limitations, and sheltering in place directives across the country. In addition to new releases and award-season/box-office favorites from the last few months, there are thousands of titles from which to choose, including family fare and kid-oriented movies.
Films can be rented or purchased. Prices vary according to category. Rentals are for 48 hours once play is first commenced, and you have 30 days to start watching a film after it’s ordered.
At Z Movies has spotlighted some great titles, including Emma., Harriet, Downton Abbey, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and The Art of Racing in the Rain in addition to top Oscar winners and contenders of 2020: Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, Joker, Jojo Rabbit, Judy, and Little Women.
Universal Pictures has already moved some of its latest releases to on demand. Trolls World Tour, still scheduled to open in the U.S. on April 10, is the first film to premier in this new format initiative. NBC Comcast Universal has already made films in theatrical releases available for streaming. Emma., The Invisible Man, and The Hunt were available last month at $19.99 for a two-day rental.
Will the home streaming of Hollywood kill demand for traditional movie viewing venues? Following the challenging times of social distancing, will date night dinner and a movie be obsolete? Doubtful. Nothing compares to Z big-screen thrills of a bucket of buttered popcorn, velveteen reclining chairs, previews of coming attractions, and the massively sonic Dolby surround-sound theater experience.
For now and perhaps for a while, it’s likely to be a challenged distribution landscape, says Jeff Shell, CEO of NBC Universal. Meantime, nuke that Orville Redenbacher, lay back in the pleather Barcalounger, crank up the speaker volume, and press PLAY.