What you need to know
- You can now rent some films still in theaters.
- NBCUniversal is the first to try this new market.
- Rentals are $20 per movie.
With movie theaters shutting down across the US and much of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic movie studios are scrambling to save their existing and planned new movie launches. Earlier this week, one studio – NBCUniversal – is using the opportunity to offer early rentals of new movies.
The concept is the same: pay money, rent a digital film that you can stream to any of your devices. But price-wise, it's very different.
Seeing as these are movies that are out in theaters now, or about to come out the rentals cost $19.99 (£15.99 in the UK), which is about 4x the usual cost. However, when you factor in the price of an actual movie ticket and add multiple people to that tally, $20 could be cheaper. It's certainly more convenient.
Trolls World Tour (DreamWorks Animation) is set to release on April 10th both in theaters (where available) and through Home Premiere on the same day.
Last weekend, Disney released that latest Star Wars film "The Rise of Skywalker" early to take advantage of many people under quarantine.
Update: Disney/Pixar have also released for purchase (not rent) the new children's movie Onward for $20.
But starting today, the Microsoft Store (and other digital outfits) are offering three films that are still out in theaters, including:
Microsoft's same rental agreement applies to Home Premier: you have 14 days to watch the movie at any time, and once started, you have 24 hours to finish it.
It's uncertain if other movie studios will follow NBCUniveral, but this is a clear first step in what could be a permanent change to the "movie-going experience." Many theaters are unlikely to re-open after the pandemic due to the enormously high costs of running those properties. And for those that do re-open it's unclear if crowds of people will flock back to sit in a crowded room with the threat of contagion still existing.
Putting that aside, for those who have had a crazy week, you at least have a few more options to keep yourself entertained if under lock and key.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.