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Every Movie Getting Released Early On-Demand and Streaming for Your Viewing Pleasure

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Related: “No Time to Die” Postponed Due to Coronavirus

Bored yet? Here is a little relief for you…not to mention for the kids.

Many film studios are releasing their newest movies on VOD or streaming platforms early amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted governments to order theaters and other public places to close, and millions of people to stay at home and practice social distancing.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, Disney announced that the live-action Mulan (which had already faced delays) is now coming to Disney+ on Sept. 4. For $29.99, subscribers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Western Europe will be able to watch the highly-anticipated film from the comfort and safety of their own home. Mulan will be released theatrically in locations where theaters are open.

Disney has already released Frozen II on Disney+ and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available on VOD.

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See all the movies being released early on VOD and streaming platforms:

MulanOn Sept. 4, Disney’s live-action remake of the classic animated film will be released on Disney+ for $29.99
HamiltonDisney announced that the stage film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Tony-winning musical, which was originally slated for a theatrical release on October 15, 2021, would be available to stream exclusively through Disney+ starting July 3, 2020.
The Lovebirds Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani‘s rom-com landed at Netflix on May 22.
BloodshotSony Pictures released the Vin Diesel film on VOD months early, on March 24.
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley QuinnWarner Bros. Pictures’ girl-powered Suicide Squad spinoff, which sees Margot Robbie reprise her role of Harley Quinn, was released on VOD on March 24.
EmmaUniversal Pictures released Focus Features’ Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, on VOD on March 20.
Frozen IIThe 2019 sequel to the hit Disney movie was made available for streaming on Disney+ a few months early, on March 14.
The HuntUniversal Pictures released Blumhouse Productions’ The Hunt, starring GLOW‘s Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank and Emma Roberts, on VOD on March 20.
I Still BelieveLionsgate released the biopic starring Riverdale K.J. Apa as Christian singer Jeremy Camp, on VOD on March 27.
The Invisible ManUniversal Pictures released Focus Features’ The Invisible Man, starring Elisabeth Moss, on VOD on March 20.
Pixar’s OnwardDisney released the animated film, starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, in theaters on March 6 and released it early on VOD on March 20 for $19.99. It will be made available for streaming on Disney+ on April 3.
Sonic the HedgehogThe animated Paramount Pictures film, starring Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey and James Marsden, was released on VOD on March 31, a month and a half after it hit theaters.
Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerStar Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the third and final Star Wars trilogy, was released in theaters in December 2019 and a few days early on VOD on March 13.
Trolls World TourUniversal Pictures released Dreamworks Animation’s Trolls sequel in theaters–where available–and on VOD, on April 10. The film will be available for a 48-hour rental period for $19.99.
The Way BackThe Warner Bros. Pictures movie, starring Ben Affleck, was released on VOD on March 24, a few weeks after it hit theaters.

Meanwhile, many movies’ theatrical release dates have been postponed, some indefinitely, with no information on whether or not the films will be released digitally instead. The list includes Disney’s Marvel films Black Widow and The New Mutants, Fox Searchlight’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part IIJohn Krasinski‘s sequel to the hit horror film.

Universal Pictures and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, which was supposed to be released in July, was delayed an entire year. Similarly, Disney has pushed all its Avatar and Star Wars sequels back one year.

Universal Pictures’ ninth Fast & Furious film F9 will be released on April 2, 2021, nearly a year after it was originally supposed to hit theaters. Sony Pictures is releasing Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway on January 15, 2021 instead of April 3. The release date for Metro-Goldwyn Mayer’s To Time to Die, Daniel Craig‘s last James Bond movie, was postponed from April 10 to November 25.

(E! and Universal Pictures are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

(This story was originally published on Friday, March 20, 2020 at 2:49 p.m. PST)

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Netflix is developing a live action ‘Assassin’s Creed’ show

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Netflix announced this morning that it’s partnering with Ubisoft to adapt the game publisher’s “Assassin’s Creed” franchise into a live action series.

The franchise jumps around in history, telling the story of a secret society of assassins with “genetic memory” and their centuries-long battle the knights templar. It has sold 155 million games worldwide and was also turned into a nearly incomprehensible 2016 film starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, which underperformed at the box office.

The companies say that they’re currently looking for a showrunner. Jason Altman and Danielle Kreinik of Ubisoft’s film and television division will serve as executive producers. (In addition to working on adaptations of Ubisoft’s intellectual property, the publisher is also involved in the Apple TV+ industry comedy “Mythic Quest.”)

“We’re excited to partner with Ubisoft and bring to life the rich, multilayered storytelling that Assassin’s Creed is beloved for,” said Netflix’s vice president of original series Peter Friedlander in a statement. “From its breathtaking historical worlds and massive global appeal as one of the best selling video game franchises of all time, we are committed to carefully crafting epic and thrilling entertainment based on this distinct IP and provide a deeper dive for fans and our members around the world to enjoy.”

It sounds like there could be follow-up shows as well, with the announcement saying that Netflix and Ubisoft will “tap into the iconic video game’s trove of dynamic stories with global mass appeal for adaptations of live action, animated, and anime series.”

Netflix recently placed an eight-episode order for “Resident Evil,” another video game franchise that was previously adapted for the big screen. And it also had a big hit with its adaptation of “The Witcher,” which is based on a fantasy book series that was popularized via video games.

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Original Content podcast: ‘Lovecraft Country’ is gloriously bonkers

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As we tried to recap the first season of HBO’s “Lovecraft Country,” one thing became clear: The show is pretty nuts.

The story begins by sending Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), his friend Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smolett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on a road trip across mid-’50s America in search of Tic’s missing father. You might assume that the search will occupy the entire season, or take even longer than that; instead, the initial storyline is wrapped up quickly.

And while there’s a story running through the whole season, most of the episodes are relatively self-contained, offering their own versions on various horror and science fiction tropes. There’s a haunted house episode, an Indiana Jones episode, a time travel episode and more.

The show isn’t perfect — the writing can be clunky, the special effects cheesy and cheap-looking. But at its best, it does an impressive job of mixing increasingly outlandish plots, creepy monsters (with plentiful gore) and a healthy dose of politics.

After all, “Lovecraft Country” (adapted form a book by Matt Ruff) is named after notoriously racist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, but it focuses almost entirely on Black characters, making the case that old genres can be reinvigorated with diverse casts and a rethinking of political assumptions.

In addition to reviewing the show, the latest episode of the Original Content podcast also includes a discussion of Netflix earnings, the new season of “The Bachelorette” and the end of Quibi.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also follow us on Twitter or send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:36 Netflix discussion
3:18 “The Bachelorette”
6:30 Quibi
14:35 “Lovecraft Country” review
31:32 “Lovecraft Country” spoiler discussion

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The short, strange life of Quibi

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“All that is left now is to offer a profound apology for disappointing you and, ultimately, for letting you down,” Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman wrote, closing out an open letter posted to Medium. “We cannot thank you enough for being there with us, and for us, every step of the way.”

With that, the founding executives confirmed the rumors and put Quibi to bed, a little more than six months after launching the service.

Starting a business is an impossibly difficult task under nearly any conditions, but even in a world that’s littered with high-profile failures, the streaming service’s swan song was remarkable for both its dramatically brief lifespan and the amount of money the company managed to raise (and spend) during that time.

A month ahead of its commercial launch, Quibi announced that it had raised another $750 million. That second round of funding brought the yet-to-launch streaming service’s funding up to $1.75 billion — roughly the same as the gross domestic product of Belize, give or take $100 million.

“We concluded a very successful second raise which will provide Quibi with a strong cash runway,” CFO Ambereen Toubassy told the press at the time. “This round of $750 million gives us tremendous flexibility and the financial wherewithal to build content and technology that consumers embrace.”

Quibi’s second funding round brought the yet-to-launch streaming service’s funding up to $1.75 billion — roughly the same as the gross domestic product of Belize, give or take $100 million.

From a financial perspective, Quibi had reason to be hopeful. Its fundraising ambitions were matched only by the aggressiveness with which it planned to spend that money. At the beginning of the year, Whitman touted the company’s plans to spend up to $100,000 per minute of programming — $6 million per hour. The executive proudly contrasted the jaw-dropping sum to the estimated $500 to $5,000 an hour spent by YouTube creators.

For Whitman and Katzenberg — best known for their respective reigns at HP and Disney — money was key to success in an already crowded marketplace. $1 billion was a drop in the bucket compared to the $17.3 billion Netflix was expected to spend on original content in 2020, but it was a start.

Following in the footsteps of Apple, who had also recently announced plans to spend $1 billion to launch its own fledgling streaming service, the company was enlisting A-List talent, from Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro and Ridley Scott to Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez and LeBron James. If your name carried any sort of clout in Hollywood boardrooms, Quibi would happily cut you a check, seemingly regardless of content specifics.

Quibi’s strategy primarily defined itself by itself by its constraints. In hopes of attracting younger millennial and Gen Z, the company’s content would be not just mobile-first, but mobile-only. There would be no smart TV app, no Chromecast or AirPlay compatibility. Pricing, while low compared to the competition, was similarly off-putting. After a 90-day free trial, $4.99 got you an ad-supported subscription. And boy howdy, were there ads. Ads upon ads. Ads all the way down. Paying another $3 a month would make them go away.

Technological constraints and Terms of Service fine print forbade screen shots — a fundamental understanding of how content goes viral in 2020 (though, to be fair, one shared with other competing streaming services). Amusingly, the inability to share content led to videos like this one of director Sam Raimi’s perplexingly earnest “The Golden Arm.”

It features a built-on laugh track from viewers as Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan lies in a hospital bed after refusing to remove a golden prosthetic. It’s an allegory, surely, but not one intentionally played for laughs. Many of the videos that did ultimately make the rounds on social media were regarded as a curiosity — strange artifacts from a nascent streaming service that made little sense on paper.

Most notable of all, however, were the “quick bites” that gave the service its confusingly pronounced name. Each program would be served in 5-10 minute chunks. The list included films acquired by the service, sliced up into “chapters.” Notably, the service didn’t actually purchase the content outright; instead, rights were set to revert to their creators after seven years. Meanwhile, after two years, content partners were able to “reassemble” the chunks back into a movie for distribution.

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