WITH major movie theater chains closed, Sony Corp. will release its Vin Diesel action film Bloodshot to at-home viewers this month, becoming the second studio to break with the decades-long practice of giving cinemas exclusive rights to new movies.
The film will be available for $19.99 to customers on March 24, Sony Pictures said Wednesday, 11 days after it premiered in cinemas and more than two months before it would normally be available online.
Coronavirus has caused a broad shakeup in the movie industry — most theaters in the US are closed indefinitely to prevent the pandemic from worsening. That’s financially squeezed cinema owners and studios that sink millions of dollars into making and marketing films. What’s unclear is if the changes caused by the virus will be permanent.
Sony insists its decision is a one-off, tied to the closings of theaters. But it’s the second major studio to announce such a move. Earlier this week, Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures said it would make Trolls World Tour accessible to home viewers the same day it premieres in theaters.
“Sony Pictures is firmly committed to theatrical exhibition and we support windowing,” said Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures’ film group. “This is a unique and exceedingly rare circumstance.”
Bloodshot is about a soldier killed in action and revived by the US government for nefarious purposes. It’s based on the Valiant comic-book character.
The film was initially expected to generate up to $17 million in opening-weekend ticket sales in North America, before the coronavirus was a global pandemic. It sold $9.3 million in tickets.
Theaters have been among the big losers in the bear market, with their stocks down two or three times more than the broader averages. — Bloomberg