Recently-released Pixar movie Onward is available to buy digitally from tonight in the US for $19.99, Disney has revealed, with the movie coming to the Disney Plus streaming service on April 3. Onward is already available to pre-order on Amazon (opens in new tab).
This follows Disney's decision to release Frozen 2 on Disney Plus several months early, but it's a much bigger deal in this case. Onward only released on 6 March in US theaters, but with the nation's cinemas closing down due to the current pandemic, its worldwide box office flamed out at only $103 million, around half its reported budget.
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From what we can tell, this move only applies to the US so far. Disney UK has made no mention of Onward releasing early on its Twitter feed so far, for example, and Disney Plus is debuting next week in many parts of Europe after a months-long wait.
A sign of things to come? Probably not
Disney got unlucky with the timing of Onward's release. The fantasy-themed Pixar movie was just starting to roll out as theaters began closing around the world, and this move is likely an attempt to recoup costs for the film and make a real event out of it. It'd be hard, after all, for Disney to put the movie back in theaters when all this over and expect audiences to treat it like a new film.
That's why you almost certainly won't see this kind of move made with entirely unreleased Disney movies, like Black Widow or Pixar's next picture, Soul.
It's not just Disney experimenting with home video releases right now, of course. Universal is trying early home video releases on its own movies, like The Invisible Man and the next Trolls feature. Sony is also releasing Vin Diesel movie Bloodshot on March 24, which only released theatrically on March 13.