• Ben Johnson

What's happening to the Theatrical Window?

Updated: May 14



While it's not quite the Wild West it seems there are now no firm rules when it comes to PVOD/TVOD releases, with UK distributors having recently used a range of different & evolving Theatrical Window breaking strategies. The biggest surprise: just how many films have broken that window and launched on TVOD early, with no “Trolls” style negative response from exhibitors/cinemas.

Universal were the first distributor to bring films to VOD once cinemas started closing. Those three recently released titles were “Emma” (Feb 14 cinema release), “The Invisible Man” (Feb 28 cinema release), and “The Hunt” (March 11 cinema release). All three were branded ‘Premiere’ in Sky Store’s VOD listing and had a rental price of £15.99, with no option to buy. The price of all three has now been reduced to £9.99, seemingly with no publicity around those price changes. As we all know, Universal also debuted “Trolls World Tour” on VOD with the ‘Premiere’ branding, a rental price of £15.99 and no option to buy. That pricing is still in place.

Another title that quickly followed Universal’s lead was Lionsgate’s “Military Wives” (March 6 cinema release) which also launched with the ‘Premiere’ branding and £15.99 rental price and no option to buy. Surprisingly, that film is no longer available to rent on VOD.

Pathe soon followed suit with “Misbehaviour” (March 13 cinema release, via Disney because of their acquisition of Fox), which launched without the ‘Premiere’ branding, with a rental price of £9.99 and no option to buy. The rental price has now been reduced to £5.49 and it is also now available to buy for £9.99.

Sony soon moved “Bloodshot” (March 11) onto VOD and is available to rent for £5.49 or buy for £13.99. It effectively debuted on VOD with the same prices we would have seen if it had followed the regular sixteen week theatrical window.

Warner Bros were quite late in moving “Harley Quinn…” (Feb 7 cinema release) onto VOD, but it still debuted ahead of the regular theatrical window. It is available to rent at £5.49, to buy at £13.99, and also effectively debuted on VOD with the same prices we would have seen if ittoo had followed the regular s theatrical window. “Richard Jewell” (Jan 31 cinema release) has also been released to VOD early, at £5.49 rental & £9.99 retail.

Paramount made the following titles available early on VOD: “The Rhythm Section” (Jan 31 cinema release) at £5.49 rental & £13.99 retail, “Sonic The Hedgehog” (Feb 14 cinema release) at £5.49 rental & £13.99 retail, and “Like A Boss” (Feb 21 cinema release) at £5.49 rental & £13.99 retail. Again, these titles are available with the the same prices we would have seen if they had followed the regular theatrical window.

Disney’s former Fox Searchlight title “Downhill” (Feb 28 cinema release) has just come to VOD, £5.49 rental and £11.99 retail, prices the same as (or similar to) what we would have seen if it had followed the regular sixteen weeks theatrical window. Pixar's latest "Onward" (March 06 release) has also just debuted early on TVOD, nine weeks since its cinema debut. However it is following the established pattern of debuting first as a retail-only title (£13.99 for the HD download), presumably with the rental offering to follow within a week or two.

Vertigo Releasing’s “Vivarium” (March 27 cinema release) was planned as a day & date TVOD/Cinema release (with a very limited presence in cinemas). However, it was made available to rent at £5.49 and to buy at £9.99, with no Premium VOD price point from day one.

Modern Film made the decision to cancel the planned March 27 cinema release of “The Perfect Candidate” and instead debuted the film on TVOD (launching their own TVOD platform in the process). The film was/is only available on a few select indie TVOD platforms (i.e. Curzon Home Cinemas and a few others), with a PVOD £9.99 rental price and no option to purchase.

606 Distribution made the decision to cancel the planned March 20 cinema release of “System Crasher” and instead launched the film on TVOD. The film was/is only available on a few select indie TVOD platforms (ie Curzon Home Cinemas and a few others), where it launched with a PVOD £9.99 rental price and no option to purchase. That rental price was soon reduced to £4.99.


With cinemas set to remain closed in the UK until early July (or later), TVOD looks set to remain at the top of the movie release food chain for a while. If you will be releasing titles in the upcoming weeks and months let Gruvi find the correct online audience for your film: email us to set up a free 30 min consultation.


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