Universal to release films in theaters and online

BROADCAST AND DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS~**

Broadcasters: FOR USE OF TRAILERS FOR 'THE HUNT', 'THE INVISIBLE MAN' AND 'TROLLS WORLD TOUR' - MUST COURTESY UNIVERSAL PICTURES WITH NO ARCHIVE, NO RESALES; FOR USE OF TRAILER FOR 'EMMA' - MUST COURTESY FOCUS FEATURES WITH NO ARCHIVE, NO RESALES; Digital: FOR USE OF TRAILERS FOR 'THE HUNT', 'THE INVISIBLE MAN' AND 'TROLLS WORLD TOUR' - MUST COURTESY UNIVERSAL PICTURES WITH NO ARCHIVE, NO RESALES; FOR USE OF TRAILER FOR 'EMMA' - MUST COURTESY FOCUS FEATURES WITH NO ARCHIVE, NO RESALES~**

Universal Pictures says they'll release some of their new movies early on digital the same day that they premiere in theaters around the globe.

The upcoming 'Trolls' sequel from Dreamworks will be ready to stream April 10, the same day it hits the big screen.

"The Hunt," "The Invisible Man" and "Emma" - all still in their theatrical runs - will be available for on-demand streaming by Friday (March 20).

NBCUniversal's announcement completely upends traditional movie releases.

Films are usually kept exclusively in theaters for around 90 days before being released to other platforms.

But the coronavirus has put Hollywood in unchartered territory.

Last weekend's box office was the worst in over two decades.

Only one movie, Disney-Pixar's "Onward," made more than 10 million dollars over the weekend.

That's partly because of audiences staying home, and theater chains like AMC and Regal cutting capacity in some auditoriums by half to avoid crowding.

And on Sunday night (March 15), the mayors of New York and Los Angeles ordered all movie theaters to close due to the virus outbreak.

According to NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, the company wanted to provide a quote "accessible and affordable" way to view new films rather than delaying or releasing them into a challenged film landscape.

Universal's move raises questions about how other studios may act as the outbreak drags on.

Disney has already moved to release 'Frozen 2' and the latest Star Wars movie early on its streaming service Disney Plus.

Most major movies over the next few months have been removed from release calendars, including Disney's Mulan, Paramount's A Quiet Place Part II, and the next James Bond movie.

So even if theaters keep their doors open, there will be fewer big-name studio films to draw in an audience.

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