Pixar’s latest animated feature, Onward, will today become the latest (and possibly biggest) theatrical release to cut its traditional theatrical window short by going to an immediate VOD/digital release. Disney announced that the film would be available for digital purchase starting today, March 20, and will subsequently hit streaming on Disney+ a few weeks from now on April 3. It’s just another indication of how deeply the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended the U.S. film industry.
Onward is a family fantasy comedy, somewhat missing in that old Pixar magic, but likely suitable for the listless quarantine viewing so many of us are engaging in right now. It will be available at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST on the Xbow, Playstation and Microsoft Stores, with possible releases to follow on services like FandangoNow and Vudu, although they don’t seem to have exact dates set. The price is set at what is now becoming a $19.99 standard, although those who don’t want to pay can simply wait until April 3 to catch it on Disney+.
“While we’re looking forward to audiences enjoying our films on the big screen again soon, given the current circumstances, we are pleased to release this fun, adventurous film to digital platforms early for audiences to enjoy from the comfort of their homes,” said director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae in an accompanying statement.
One has to wonder, as this practice becomes commonplace, how theaters will recover if major films elect to skip or continue shortening their theatrical windows. As the nation recovers from the pandemic in the coming months, will quick VOD releases become the norm? Or will we revert to the system as it was before? It will be fascinating to see how the viral outbreak ultimately reshapes American movies.
Meanwhile, check out Disney’s announcement below.