With U.S. theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Disney is releasing Harrison Ford’s “The Call of the Wild” early on digital on March 27.
The studio also announced that “Downhill,” a black comedy from Searchlight starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis Dreyfus, will also be available for an early digital release on March 27. “Call of the Wild” will cost $14.99 to purchase and “Downhill” will cost $9.99.
The crisis has caused a profound shift in how studios are handling home entertainment releasing over the past two weeks. Prior to the pandemic, theatrical releases were not available at home until three months after they premiered in multiplexes.
Last week, Disney announced its animated “Onward” would be available via digital for $19.99 and will hit Disney Plus on April 3 in the U.S.
Lionsgate, Sony, Universal, STX Films and Warner Bros. have all announced plans to release films early on VOD, including “I Still Believe,” “The Way Back,” “Bloodshot,” “Birds of Prey,” “The Hunt” and “The Invisible Man.”
“The Call of the Wild” opened in second place in North America behind “Sonic the Hedgehog” during its Feb. 21-23 launch weekend. It has earned $62 million in North America and $45 million internationally. Opening-day audiences gave “The Call of the Wild” an A- Cinemascore. Ford stars as outdoorsman John Thornton in an adaptation of Jack London’s novel set during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s. His co-star is Buck, a CGI Saint Bernard-Scotch Collie mix who is stolen from his home in California, sent to Canada to haul freight and becomes Thornton’s friend.
Reviews for “The Call of the Wild” have generated a 64% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, written by Michael Green (“Logan,” “Blade Runner 2049”) and directed by Chris Sanders, carries a $125 million price tag with TSG co-financing. Disney inherited the movie as part of its purchase of Fox’s entertainment assets last year. Sources estimated earlier this month that “The Call of the Wild” will probably lose about $50 million.
“Downhill,” a remake of Ruben Ostlund’s “Force Majeure,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews. Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus play a married couple forced to reevaluate their relationship after an avalanche threatens their family ski trip.
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