'The Invisible Man'.

‘The Invisible Man.’

Universal Pictures is taking the extraordinary step of releasing The Invisible Man, Emma and The Hunt on-demand in the US this Friday.

All three titles will be available to rent for 48 hours for the suggested price of $US19.99.

Making the announcement, Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, said this initiative would also apply to overseas markets where those titles have been released in cinemas.

However Universal is not following suit in Australia with Leigh Whannell’s The Invisible Man, which is playing on 273 screens in its third week, grossing $7.3 million through yesterday, and Emma, which is on 197 screens in its fifth week, making nearly $3.9 million.

Directed by Craig Zobel, The Hunt, an action thriller starring Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank and Ike Barinholtz, bowed in the US last Friday, taking a mediocre $US5.3 million. It’s due to premiere here on April 9.

On Twitter, Whannell said: “Due to…um…things happening in the world, we are releasing @TheInvisibleMan for streaming this Friday. So those who wanted to catch it in theatres but couldn’t will be able to view it from the safety of their biohazard containment zones (couch or bed).”

Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, which was scheduled to open in cinemas in the US on April 10, will now go out day-and-date in homes and on the big screen.

In some offshore markets the studio said the sequel will be available on VOD rental as well as in cinemas. The animated musical comedy-adventure, which features the voice cast of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden and Ozzy Osbourne, was booked to open in Australia on March 26 but has been shifted to September 17.

The theatrical to home entertainment release window here and in the US is 90 days. The major US chains refuse to screen films that break the window.

Last weekend, the US BO hit a 22-year low of $US55.3 million, with more than 100 cinemas closed around the country. Authorities have since ordered cinemas in Los Angeles and New York to shutter and Regal Cinemas, the nation’s second biggest circuit, is closing all its locations until further notice.

“Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception. Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable,” Shell said.

“We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theatres where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible.”

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