Disney joins the growing number of studios releasing films early digitally as theaters remain shuttered nationwide in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” will be available to buy digitally and on Movies Anywhere for $19.99 beginning on Friday at 5 p.m. PT. It hits Disney Plus on April 3 in the U.S.
“While we’re looking forward to audiences enjoying our films on the big screen again soon, given the current circumstances, we are pleased to release this fun, adventurous film to digital platforms early for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their homes,” said director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae.
The fantasy adventure, starring Chris Pratt and Tom Holland as elf brothers, opened to $39.1 million in theaters on March 6. It topped newcomers “Bloodshot” (Sony), “The Hunt” (Universal) and “I Still Believe” (Lionsgate) last weekend, when the box office hit a two-decade low. All three of those films are also being released early on digital, in addition to “Birds of Prey,” “The Way Back,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Gentlemen,” “Just Mercy” and “Emma,” among others.
The exhibition industry is counting on home entertainment earnings to recover some of its losses as theaters go dark in the U.S. — joining China, South Korea, Italy, and other countries hit hard by the outbreak — productions shut down en masse and major tentpole releases are postponed.
Last weekend, Disney also debuted “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” a few days early on digital and launched “Frozen 2” three months in advance of its planned bow on Disney Plus.