Bringing the Theater Home: 18 Recent Releases You Can Watch Right Now

No one knows what daily life will be like when stay-at-home requirements lift but with movie production at a standstill, Hollywood has addressed these unprecedented times with an unprecedented act by bringing first-run movies directly to the public, forgoing theatrical release altogether or dramatically shortening the traditional three-month window between theatrical runs and home release. It came down to a question of delaying scheduled release dates by many months (and then praying theaters will actually be open on the rescheduled date) or releasing films directly to the public to get the revenue stream going.

Just a couple days ago, Universal Pictures announced that Trolls World Tour had become the highest grossing digital release, raking in 10 times more than a normal digital release on opening day. The DreamWorks production had been slated to open April 10 but since that wasn’t going to happen, the studio decided to release it on Amazon’s Prime Video the same day it had been slated for theatrical release. The movie even enjoyed a limited theatrical release in a couple dozen of the 300 or so remaining drive-ins across the country.

The wider selection of new movies we’re currently enjoying at home may produce another silver lining as homebound consumers contemplate replacing existing screens with bigger 75- or 80-inch TVs, many of which are available at super competitive prices. In a new survey that looks at purchase intentions among U.S. consumers over the next 12 months, Texas-based Parks Associates reports that intent to buy TVs is up 10% over the same period in 2018 and 5% over last year. Americans are similarly more inclined to buy gaming consoles (up 8% over 2019), headphones (up 7%), and soundbars (up 6%). Good news for electronics industry and for consumers who have turned to technology to make sheltering in place a bit more palatable.

Whether you’re watching on a 55-inch screen or a 150-inch video projection setup, here are 18 recently released movies you can watch in the comfort of your home right now. Theatrical release dates are noted in parentheses and we’ve provided details on 4K UHD availability where possible.

Trolls World Tour (DreamWorks, April 10) – Poppy and Branch discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world gets a lot louder when Queen Barb of hard-rock royalty and her father King Thrash set out to destroy all other kinds of music. With the fate of the world at stake, Poppy, Branch, and friends set out to unify the Trolls in harmony against the Queen, who is bent on upstaging them all. Available in 4K UHD on Prime Video and Vudu: $19.99 for a 48-hour rental. A Blu-ray release date has not yet been announced but you can pre-order the 4K UHD version on Amazon for $29.99.

The Lovebirds (Quinn’s House, distributed by Netflix, April 3) – A couple (Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani) experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. As the journey to clear their names takes them from one extreme (and hilarious) circumstance to the next, they must figure out how they (and their relationship) can survive the night. The movie was released for streaming on Netflix April 3, the date it had been scheduled to hit theaters.

The Hunt (Universal, March 13) – Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don’t know where they are or how they got there, but soon learn they’re about to be hunted for sport by a group of crazy elites. Starring Betty Gilpin and Hilary Swank. Available in HD on Prime Video and Google Play: $19.99 for a 48-hour rental. The movie will be available for digital download May 26 and on standard Blu-ray June 9 ($24.99); a date for release on 4K disc has not been announced.

Bloodshot (Sony Pictures, March 13) – After he and his wife are murdered, marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is resurrected by a team of scientists. Enhanced with nanotechnology, he becomes a superhuman killing machine — Bloodshot. At first he can’t recall anything from his former life. But when his memory returns and he remembers the man that killed him and his wife, he seeks revenge, only to discover that there's more to the conspiracy than he thought. Available to purchase in 4K UHD on Google Play and Vudu for $19.99. A Blu-ray release date has not been announced but you can pre-order the 4K disc for $26.96 on Amazon.

I Still Believe (Kevin Downes Productions, March 13) – The true-life story of Christian music star Jeremy Camp (played by K.J. Apa) and his journey of love and loss that proves there is always hope. Also starring Gary Sinise. Available in HD on Prime Video and in HDX on Vudu: $14.99 for a 48-hour rental. A Blu-ray release date has not yet been announced but you can pre-order the standard Blu-ray version on bestbuy.com for $22.99.

The Way Back (Warner Bros., March 6) – Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) was a high school basketball phenom who walked away from the game, forfeiting his future. Years later, when he reluctantly accepts a coaching job at his alma mater, he gets one last shot at redemption. Available in 4K UHD on Google Play and Vudu: $5.99 for a 48-hour rental, $19.99 to purchase. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release May 19 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $19.99.

Onward (Disney/Pixar, March 6) – Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, embark on a magical quest to bring back the father they never knew for one day. Streaming on Disney+ and available on Google Play and Vudu: $5.99 for a 48-hour HD (or HDX) rental, $19.99 to purchase in 4K UHD. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release May 19 on Amazon; pricing has not been released.

Emma. (Working Title Films, March 6) – A reimagining of the Jan Austen classic, a well-meaning but selfish young woman (Anya Taylor-Joy) meddles in the love lives of her friends in 19th century England. Available to purchase on Prime Video in HD and Vudu in HDX for $19.99. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release May 19 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $24.99.

The Invisible Man (Universal, February 28) – When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax in this modern-day adaptation of the original 1933 sci-fi thriller. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. Starring Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men, The Handmaid’s Tale). Available on Prime Video and Google Play in HD: $19.99 for a 48-hour rental. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release May 26 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $24.99.

The Call of the Wild (20th Century Fox, February 21) – In this adaption of the Jack London classic, the life of a big-hearted sled dog (Buck) is turned upside down when he is transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Yukon where he struggles for survival. Starring Harrison Ford. Available on FandangoNow in 4K UHD: $5.99 for 48-hour rental, $14.99 to purchase. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release May 12 on Amazon; pricing has not been released.

Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount, February 14) – In this videogame-inspired animated comedy, a small-town police officer helps a super-fast blue hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Also starring James Marsden. Available to purchase in 4K UHD on Google Play and Prime Video for $19.99. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release May 19 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $22.99.

Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (Sony Pictures, February 14) – In this horror adaptation of the popular '70s TV show about a magical island resort starring, the enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña) makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests come true at a luxurious but remote tropical resort. When the fantasies turn into nightmares, the guests have to solve the island's mystery in order to escape with their lives. Available for purchase in 4K UHD on Google Play for $14.99. The standard Blu-ray is slated for release May 12 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $22.99; a date for release on 4K disc has not been announced.

Downhill (Filmhaus Films, February 14) – Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell) is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Available in 4K UHD on Google Play and Vudu: $5.99 for 48-hour rental, $9.99 to purchase.

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Warner Bros., February 7) – After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to save a young girl from an evil crime lord. Available in 4K UHD on Google Play: $5.99 for 48-hour rental, $19.99 to purchase.

The Gentlemen (STX Films/Miramax, January 24) – An American expat (Matthew McConaughey) tries to sell off his highly profitable marijuana empire in London, triggering plots, schemes, bribery, and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him. Also featuring Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant. Available in 4K UHD on Vudu: $5.99 for 48-hour rental, $14.99 to purchase.

Bad Boys for Life (Sony Pictures, January 17) – Miami detectives Mike Lowrey (will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) face off against mother-and-son drug lords who wreak vengeful havoc on their city. Available on Vudu in 4K UHD: $5.99 to rent starting April 28, $19.99 to purchase now. The 4K Blu-ray is slated for release April 21 and can be pre-ordered on bestbuy.com for $27.99.

Dolittle (Universal, January 17) – In the latest spinoff of 1967 classic Doctor Dolittle, the eccentric Doctor (Robert Downey, Jr.) sets sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures. Also starring Antonio Banderas as King Rassouli and Michael Sheen as Dr. Blair Müdfly. Available in 4K UHD on Vudu: $5.99 to rent, $19.99 to purchase, and $27.16 on 4K Blu-ray with a digital copy.

Frozen II (Disney, November 2019) – In this follow-up to 2013’s Frozen, Anna (voiced by Kristin Bell) and her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) summon the courage to leave Arendelle and travel to an ancient forest in an enchanted land to find the origin of Elsa's powers and save their kingdom. The movie was released for streaming in mid-March, three months earlier than originally scheduled. Streaming on Disney+ and available on Google Play: $5.99 to rent (HD), $24.99 to purchase (4K UHD). Also available on 4K Blu-ray through bestbuy.com for $24.99.

Staying the Theatrical Course
Of course, there are exceptions to the recent spate of direct-to-consumer movie releases: Instead of skipping the box office, MGM/Universal has rescheduled the new James Bond installment No time to Die for November 25 and Disney has pushed back the big-budget productions Mulan and Black Widow to July 24 and November 6, respectively. Will theaters will even reopen by the end of July? I wouldn’t bet on it. Universal went a step further, postponing release of the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise to 2021.

COMMENTS
brenro's picture

Should have gone straight to video anyway.

jeffhenning's picture

...People getting used to not going to movie theaters and streaming everything is fine for studios, great for streaming outlets and probably a bit of a boost for high speed internet providers. I'm sure it will be good for TV manufacturers ("My big screen TV is too small!").

For theater owners, it's a nightmare and, most likely, the true sounding of the death knell that they thought they heard in the late 1940's when TV emerged.

When you own a 65" (or larger) OLED screen, do you really need to go to a movie theater? Especially when theaters normally have a muddy looking image because they turn the lamp down to save power?

Don't know about you guys, but, other than a couple visits to old movie palaces (a nostalgia experience), I've found my modern theater experiences to be sub-optimal. Dim picture, mediocre audio, people talking in the theater...

I feel for the people that get thrown on the ash heap. I've had that happen to me more than once.

COVID may do what TV, video tape & bootlegging couldn't: kill the movie theater.

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