Disney’s Onward Available for Digital Purchase Tonight as Coronavirus Shutters Theaters

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Disney’s latest Pixar film, Onward, opened in theaters just two weeks ago, but the company is already making it available for digital purchase tonight, making it the latest current release to quickly migrate to video-on-demand platforms as the novel coronavirus’ spread wipes out traditional movie theater attendance.

The film, which follows the adventures of two elf brothers voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, will be available to purchase on digital platforms for $19.99 beginning at 8 p.m. ET, Disney said this morning.

It will then be released on Disney’s streaming service Disney+ just two weeks from now, on April 3.

Onward opened in theaters March 6 to positive reviews, but its release came as concerns about the coronavirus’ spread around the United States began to amplify. Most theaters around the country have since closed, either voluntarily or due to local or state governments’ orders.

“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 Onward director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae in a joint statement.

It’s the second such major move for Disney as it and other entertainment giants face the unprecedented effects of coronavirus on the traditional pillars of their businesses, including theatrical release revenues, amusement park attendance and cruise ship bookings.

Last weekend, Disney dropped its November film Frozen 2 on Disney+ three months sooner than expected to “[surprise] families with some fun and joy during this challenging period,” the company said.

Disney’s decision to release the film early follows other studios and distributors who have opted to upend the traditional 90-day window between a film’s theatrical release and its availability on digital platforms.

On Monday, NBCUniversal’s Universal Pictures said it would make current theatrical releases like Emma and The Invisible Man available to purchase as soon as today. Several other recent releases—including Warner Bros.’ Birds of Prey, Sony’s Bloodshot, STX Entertainment’s The Gentlemen and Universal Pictures’ Dolittle—will all follow suit, and be available to buy and/or rent as soon as March 24.

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