Warner Bros. will make “Birds of Prey,” a spinoff of 2017’s “Suicide Squad,” available for digital purchase on March 24, earlier than its anticipated video-on-demand release.

Variety, By Rebecca Rubin

© CLAUDETTE BARIUS | ‘Birds of Prey’ Will Be Released on VOD Early

The film is expected to cost $19.99 to buy on platforms such as Amazon and iTunes and will be available for rental in April, the studio confirmed to Variety.

It would be a surprising move at any other time, since “Birds of Prey” is still playing in theaters and exhibitors have been steadfast to resist any attempts from studios to shorten the amount of time that films are exclusively available on the big screen. However, multiplexes in multiple states, including New York, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington, have been ordered to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Even before theaters officially closed, audiences had started to avoid crowded venues amid the public health crisis, causing box office ticket sales to the crater.

The news comes following Universal’s announcement earlier Monday that “Trolls World Tour,” from DreamWorks Animation, would be available on home entertainment for $19.99 the same day it was expected to hit theaters. The studio’s other titles that were still playing on the silver screen — Blumhouse thrillers “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man,” as well as “Emma,” an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel from Focus, Universal’s specialty label will also be accessible to purchase early on demand.

In light of that announcement, “Birds of Prey” director Cathy Yan wrote on Twitter, “I would not be opposed to putting ‘Birds of Prey’ on VOD earlier.”

“Birds of Prey” first released in theaters Feb. 8 and has generated $177 million to date, a disappointing result given its $85 million budget. While moviegoers didn’t turn out in force to watch the on-screen shenanigans of the Gotham baddie played by Margot Robbie, people could be more enticed to tune in at home since many are opting to stay inside as the virus spreads.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended starting last Sunday that public gatherings involving more than 50 people be called off for the next eight weeks. Those guidelines pertain to theaters, as well as bars, restaurants, and other packed gathering spaces.

This article was originally published by Variety.
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