Universal and chill? Film studio criticised for hiking prices to stream new movies at home

Isobel van Hagen
Tuesday 17 March 2020 16:30
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Since there is a lot of at-home film-watching in our future, how much would you pay to watch a newly released movie on your couch?

Universal Pictures plans to make The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma available on home release as early as Friday, due to advice to avoid cinemas throughout the outbreak.

While a number of upcoming movies – including Fast and Furious 9, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, Mulan and New Mutants – have delayed their releases until further notice, Universal Pictures will take a different approach.

Jeff Shell, CEO of NBCUniversal, made the announcement Monday, saying that rather than delaying these films or "releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape," the studio wanted to provide "an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable".

The movies will be made available to rent on demand services such as Comcast, Sky, Apple and Amazon.

While this is a safe and healthy move for cinema-goers, netizens are not happy with the seemingly high prices which may take advantage of the pandemic, as each film will be available as a 48-hour rental at the suggested price of $19.99.

Many pointed out that it's more (a lot more) than going to the cinema.

Some accused the studio of "price gauging", which is the unethical (and in some cases illegal) practice of massively increasing prices beyond what is reasonable following a surge in demand.

Others joked about illegally downloading movies online during social distancing:

It's worth noting that Netflix's standard plan (which includes thousands of films) costs half the price as £10.99.

indy100 reached out to Universal Pictures but has not yet received a response.

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