With no big-screen options due to the coronavirus outbreak, the movie’s studio, Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, must largely skip the theater and release the animated sequel on digital platforms like its own Xfinity, which Ms. Lynn used. For Ms. Lynn, the rental fee—$19.99 for a 48-hour window—seemed reasonable since it allowed her to have a “Trolls movie party” at home.
By Friday afternoon, her daughter was already on her second viewing. “I’ve technically already got my money’s worth,” Ms. Lynn said.
More Hollywood studios are rushing their theatrical releases to digital services as U.S. theaters remain closed, offering an important test for the future of movies. This could accelerate a shift that was under way before the pandemic hit. The potential result: More movies being produced with the living room, and not the multiplex, in mind.
The outcome of this experiment will have significant implications for studio chiefs, theater owners and moviegoers. For decades, theaters have fought to safeguard an exclusive right to play movies in their auditoriums for months before they become available at home—usually first on premium digital services and then on DVD or cable channels.