On Screen: Quarantine Releases

With theaters closed everywhere now, studios great and small are finding a newfound sense of flexibility regarding the timing of video on demand releases. A few options for everyone stuck at home being good social distancers:

  • Indie movie houses have been hit especially hard so it’s very exciting to see distributors partnering with local cinemas to find creative solutions to moviegoing in the age of social distancing. Especially encouraging is the experiment proposed by Kino Lorber this week to move Bacurau, the Brazilian near-future Western with a hint of alien invasion, into a “virtual” release. They’re partnering with arthouse theaters around the country to set-up screening rooms. Viewers get a chance to see the Cannes Jury Prize winner and ticket sales benefit the individual film organizations as if they were still visiting the local theater. The film was supposed to open at SIFF Uptown on the day that they closed their doors. While they don’t yet appear in the list of virtual screening rooms, it seems like you can pick another organization in need of viewers (the closest local option is Bellingham’s Pickford Film Center, which lists the film as “coming soon”). Really hoping to see more efforts like this that take all parts of the filmgoing economy into consideration!
  • Pixar’s Onward should’ve been a huge release for the beloved animation studio, but it dropped into theaters two weeks ago and days later had to watch as the virus drained its box office. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Disney read the room and is pushing it into households stat. Families who’ve already been driven mad kids at home incessantly watching (Sunbreak-recommended) Frozen 2 since it’s early release to Disney+ might be willing to spring a rental on Movies Anywhere beginning at 5 PST. Otherwise, hang in there, the story of elf brothers on a quest to talk to their dead elf father will hit Disney+ in a mere two weeks (April 3).
  • Universal had the same idea. With blockbusters like The Invisible Man having their theatrical run cut short in the interest of public health and safety, they’re opening the floodgates on rental markets. For just under $20 you can watch Elisabeth Moss be terrorized by her controlling scientist boyfriend, presumably from beyond the grave. Pick a service, it’s probably there. Another Universal release, The Hunt, is also widely available, but for your own health and safety you might want to avoid that one. Instead, consider making it a recent Elisabeth Moss Great Performances double feature and fire up Her Smell (streaming free on a few services, and widely rentable on others). It’s a tough hang, but nevertheless rewarding.
  • For something much lighter, Emma. was a confectionery delight whose meddling, life lessons, and love were cut short far too soon by something far worse than a drafty manor. Focus Features has put Autumn de Wilde’s charming, pastel hued, adaptation of the Jane Austen novel onto at least a half-dozen streaming services. As above, the new-ish release going rate is around $20. More than the price of a single ticket at a theater, but close to a bargain if you’re not isolating alone or if you account for the money you’re saving by making your own popcorn.
  • Among other recent-reviews, Real-life redlining story The Banker has also made a beeline for home-viewing and is now available on Apple TV+; female-fronted film noir Blow the Man Down skipped singing sea shanties in cinemas and sailed straight to Prime Video.

Many more films are scheduled for early release in the coming days and weeks; we’ll try to keep an eye on them as they hit the digital airwaves. Feel free to let us know if you’ve found any streaming gems — new or archival — by hitting us up with recommendations on Facebook or Twitter.