'Birds of Prey' is one of the many movies getting early digital releases.

20 Movies That Got Early Digital Releases Because Of Coronavirus

Originally Published: 
Warner Bros.

Quarantining can be lonely, but luckily, there are a ton of new movies hitting streaming services much earlier than expected to help you pass the time. In response to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down movie theaters and keeping people inside their homes, many movie studios have worked out plans to release their new films online. It's an unprecedented decision, since major releases have almost always followed the traditional structure of premiering in theaters and then getting a home release several months later, but these movies are getting early digital releases to entertain everyone who's social distancing and keeping audiences safely out of indoor theaters.

After the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic on March 11, people all over the world began to self-quarantine and practice social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading, per the CDC's recommendations. Of course, that meant people had to stop going to movie theaters, and in the middle of March, most movie theaters announced closures across the nation. It was a bummer for fans looking forward to the new movies about to come out, but luckily, studios and streaming services came up with a way to release their movies without theaters.

Now, several movies that were recently in theaters, or were supposed to be released in theaters, are making an early jump to on-demand and streaming. Check out the movies getting early digital releases:

  • Onward
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Birds of Prey
  • Emma
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Hunt
  • I Still Believe
  • The Way Back
  • Frozen 2
  • Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker
  • Bloodshot
  • Trolls World Tour
  • The Lovebirds
  • Scoob!
  • The High Note
  • Artemis Fowl
  • The King of Staten Island
  • You Should Have Left
  • My Spy
  • Hamilton

Several of the films that premiered in theaters at the very beginning of the pandemic are now available to watch online, like Pixar's fantasy adventure Onward and the Elisabeth Moss thriller The Invisible Man, while others that premiered theatrically months before the pandemic received much earlier digital releases. Recent Disney releases like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Frozen 2 hit streaming services much earlier than usual, while Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani's rom-com The Lovebirds ditched its planned theatrical release altogether and premiered on Netflix instead

As the theater closures continued throughout summer, more major movies followed The Lovebirds’ lead by opting to premiere online rather than wait for theaters to reopen. Artemis Fowl debuted on Disney+ rather than its planned theatrical release, and The King of Staten Island did the same thing on premium video-on-demand services. Perhaps most notably, Disney+ pushed up its release of the filmed production of Hamilton by more than a year, bumping it to a July 3, 2020, release instead of the originally planned October 15, 2021, premiere.

This list is likely to only grow as coronavirus prevention precautions continue. There are a bunch of major films scheduled to premiere in the upcoming months that have had to continually push back their theatrical premiere dates, including: Mulan, Wonder Woman 1984, Soul, Top Gun: Maverick, and In the Heights. As everyone's quarantine continues, look out for new announcements about what's coming to streaming, because it seems that's how fans will be catching the new releases for a while.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’ spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.

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