As lockdown rumbles on, the cinemas are remaining firmly closed, meaning lots of huge film releases aren’t getting their usual stint on the silver screen. For fans of streaming, though, there is good news. Plenty of massive films are being released digitally sooner than expected.
Film-makers have been left making tough decisions on whether to delay the release of their films or to forge ahead and release them digitally. Right now, some big movies are landing on streaming platforms, or being released for digital purchase.
Several high-profile releases have been delayed. No Time to Die, the upcoming Bond film starring Daniel Craig, has been pushed back and saw an all-star premiere event abandoned. Due to the fact many of these films would still be in cinemas, were it not for the crisis, many of them are more expensive than typical on-demand offerings. Our full round-up covers all the films that are making their way onto digital platforms earlier than planned.
Related: Disney Plus vs Netflix
Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker
One of the biggest films on this list, it was huge news when Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker got an early on-demand release. You can pick it up now, but it’s still pretty expensive.
If dramatic battles, lightsaber duels and force-wielding warriors are your thing, then look no further. While this latest addition to the Star Wars franchise split opinion, it’s definitely worth making up your own mind.
Watch now: Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker on Amazon
Disney’s streaming platform, Disney Plus, is all the rage at the minute. It received an extra boost on March 15 when Frozen 2 made its way onto the platform in select countries three months earlier than Disney had initially planned.
It’s available to stream on Disney Plus in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Australia, but won’t come to Disney Plus UK until July.
If you’re not a Disney Plus subscriber, your best bet is Amazon.
Watch now: Frozen 2 at Amazon
Mulan and Black Widow (un-confirmed)
While we’re on the subject of Disney films, it’s worth noting that Mulan and Black Widow could be headed for digital release sooner than expected. This isn’t confirmed yet but seems likely given the on-going situation. YouTuber Grace Randolph claims to have heard from relevant sources that Black Widow and Mulan could be going “straight to streaming”. If this means the films going onto Disney Plus, (rather than making the film purchasable via third parties like Amazon and Sky), then it would be a massive coup for subscribers.
Why look forward to these films? Both are all-action titles with impressive female leads, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow is a particularly popular character since appearing in The Avengers series, while Mulan sees the classic 1998 animated hero reimagined in live-action.
A smaller title that might have slipped under the radar for many is Human Capital. Liev Schreiber stars as a conflicted father who is quickly caught up in a web of debt, conflict and snobbery. Take a look at the trailer below to get a taste for the film.
Watch now: Human Capital on Amazon
Starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Downhill promises to be “a different kind of disaster movie”. It came out on Valentines Day, February 14, and had its theatrical run cut cruelly short as a result.
It’s available online now via Amazon. However, we’ve only found an Amazon US link so far, so viewers in other regions may have to consider using a VPN. We have also linked our best VPNs for your convenience.
Watch now: Downhill on Amazon
Get a VPN: The best VPNs for streaming
Sonic the Hedgehog
Initially released in cinemas on February 14, Sonic the Hedgehog is set to make its way onto digital platforms much sooner than expected. The film will now be available for purchase digitally on March 31, just six weeks after its theatrical release.
Preorder: Sonic the Hedgehog at Amazon
Guy Ritchie’s latest British gangster flick, starring Matthew McConnaughey, Charlie Hunnam and Hugh Grant, came out back in January. It got a digital release this week, a bit sooner than had been planned. If you’re a fan of Ritchie’s distinctive style, this is a film that’s sure to entertain.
Preorder: The Gentlemen at Amazon
Birds of Prey
Released in early February, Birds of Prey saw Margot Robbie reprise her DC-universe role as Harley Quinn. This time around Harley’s without her dangerous boyfriend, the Joker. The movie instead follows a chaos-causing all-female troupe of villains.
The film is headed for digital release just a month after it hit cinemas.
Preorder: Birds of Prey at Amazon
Onward sees Tom Holland and Chris Pratt voice a pair of elves that attempt to bring their father back from the dead. It was released in cinemas at the start of the month but became available on-demand last week. Disney Plus subscribers will also be able to watch the charming animated film on the all-new streaming platform on April 3.
Preorder: Onward at Amazon
By opting for an annual membership, you can save 15% as opposed to paying the monthly rate for Disney Plus. For classics like The Simpsons and Recess, alongside modern staples like Frozen 2 and The Mandalorian, it's an absolute bargain.
Released in cinemas just last month, the latest adaptation of Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Bill Nighy, Johnny Flynn and Miranda Hart, in an all-star cast. It’s a comedic period piece that was well received critically during its initial theatrical release.
The film is available on-demand just a month after it was in cinemas.
Watch now: Emma at Amazon
Trolls World Tour
Trolls World Tour is DreamWorks’ sequel to the studio’s 2016 kids hit, Trolls. It was originally slated to open in cinemas on April 10, but now the film will become available on-demand on that date instead.
The comedy musical features the voices of Mary J. Blige, James Corden, Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick and more.
This action-packed comedy from Paramount was set to hit cinemas April 3 but will be going straight to Netflix instead. The Lovebirds stars Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani.
The stars play a couple unwittingly dragged into a murder investigation, in which they are suspects. Take a look at the trailer below.
The Way Back
Ben Affleck plays an alcoholic construction worker turned high school basketball coach in this Warner Brothers sports drama. The Way Back was set for a full theatrical release starting March 6 but is available online now.
The Invisible Man
Released in cinemas on February 28, the theatrical run of this sci-fi horror was cut short by the coronavirus outbreak. Now, horror fans will be able to watch The Invisible Man on-demand on March 20.
The film follows Elisabeth Moss’s character, who suspects she is being stalked by an abusive – and invisible – former boyfriend. The Handmaid’s Tale star offers a chilling performance in this adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel.
Watch now: The Invisible Man on Amazon
Call of the Wild
Harrison Ford’s CGI-heavy family adventure originally arrived in cinemas February 21. With its run cut short, it’s been made available digitally earlier than expected.
Watch now: Call of the Wild on Amazon
In this horror-comedy, a bunch of ordinary working-class Americans are kidnapped and hunted by upper-class elites. It’s like The Hunger Games but full of US politics and it’s available on-demand now.
The film was initially delayed when several mass shootings took place before the intended cinematic release date and – due to the films cocktail of violence and politics – its creators thought a delay was best. Second time around, the film was delayed by coronavirus. The makers of The Hunt really can’t seem to catch a break, though scan through a few reviews and your sympathy for them might wane.
Watch now: The Hunt at Sky Store
Groundhog Day meets The Punisher in this comic book film starring Vin Diesel. He plays a US Marine, newly resurrected, complete with superpowers, who gradually finds out that the people who saved him aren’t telling him the whole truth.
The originally planned release on March 13 was unfortunate timing for the film’s creators, meaning you can stream Bloodshot on demand as of this week.
Preorder: Bloodshot at Amazon
Bad Boys for Life
Strap in for more police comedy action from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. The third Bad Boys film landed in cinemas in January, but its theatrical run was impacted by the virus. Now, they’re coming for you on streaming platforms March 31.
Watch now: Bad Boys for Life at Amazon