First-Run Movies Bowing on TV: Is VOD a Fair Deal, or Do You Strictly Stream?

Are VOD Rentals Too Expensive

The movie-going experience shifted to a TV-viewing opportunity in mid-March, once theaters shuttered due to the pandemic. Have you been buying what the VOD services are selling?

Because the coronavirus pandemic has forced major studios to take several of their biggest titles direct to consumer, our living rooms have become makeshift theaters. And while some of those films have wound up on Apple TV+, Netflix or Disney+, others have been released straight to VOD at a heftier price.

Whereas the average cost of a movie ticket is currently $9.16, the cost of a 48-hour VOD rental is typically about $20, which is what you might pay to eventually own the movie outright (once it’s released on digital and Blu-ray). Trolls World Tour and The Invisible Man kicked off the shift back in March, following aborted or truncated theatrical runs, while recent films that have gone that same route include the family friendly Scoob! (released May 15), Tracee Ellis Ross’ The High Note (May 29), Kevin Bacon’s You Should Have Left (June 18), Pete Davidson’s King of Staten Island (June 25) and Jon Stewart’s Irresistible (June 26). Alone, those five movies would have run you a hundred bucks to rent via VOD.

But if you haven’t relied on VOD releases, you’ve probably pressed play on any number of new films that premiered on one of the major subscription services — like the Charlize Theron-led graphic novel adaptation The Old Guard (on Netflix), Tom Hanks’ World War II-era epic Greyhound (on Apple TV+), or the Andy Samberg time-loop comedy Palm Springs (on Hulu), all of which were released this past week.

Prior to that, the direct-to-streaming titles that had no choice but to forego their intended multiplex destinations included Spike Lee’s Oscar-contending joint Da 5 Bloods (also on Netflix) and a long-gestating adaptation of the popular YA book Artemis Fowl (on Disney+), while the Hamilton #Hamilfilm — originally slated for an October 2021 theatrical release — instead got fast-tracked onto Disney+, amid much fanfare.

How have you been consuming first-run movies that had to skip theaters to instead bow on smaller screens? Are you able to make a case for a $20 VOD rental, or are you prudently sticking to streaming releases that you “already pay for”?

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