The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every corner of the entertainment industry, including a wide array of movie releases. In addition to upcoming blockbusters being delayed until later this year (or, in many cases, indefinitely), a handful of recently-released films are making the jump to Video on Demand much faster than anticipated, in light of nearly every mainstream movie theater chain closing their doors. The Way Back, Ben Affleck-led basketball drama that was released earlier this month on March 6th, is the latest among them. On Thursday, Warner Bros. announced (via Deadline) that the film would be released through "electronic sell-through" beginning on Tuesday, March 24th, for the price of $19.99.
"With audiences largely unable to view films in theatrical release under current circumstances, we have decided to provide the alternative of early digital ownership of our currently released titles to people looking for great entertainment options," Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement. "So, while we remain big fans of the theatrical experience and hope audiences are able to return to cinemas in the near future, we understand that these are challenging times and offering this option simply makes sense."
Directed by Gavin O'Connor, The Way Back follows a former high school basketball champ who gets the opportunity to coach the struggling team at his alma mater while contending with his alcoholism. The film also stars Al Madrigal, Janina Gavankar, Michaela Watkins, Brandon Wilson, Will Ropp, Fernando Luis Vega, and Melvin Gregg.
The film joins recent WB released Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and The Gentlemen in making their VOD debut within the next week. Other releases coming over to the format include Universal's The Invisible Man, The Hunt, Emma, and the upcoming Trolls World Tour, and Sony's Bloodshot.
"Given the rapidly evolving and unprecedented changes to consumers' daily lives during this difficult time, the company felt that now was the right time to provide this option in the home as well as in theaters. NBCUniversal will continue to evaluate the environment as conditions evolve and will determine the best distribution strategy in each market when the current unique situation changes," NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said of their decision to push the new releases. "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. We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible."
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