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These 17 movies will be available online early to help ease your coronavirus anxiety

The Call of the Wild, Onward, Bad Boys for Life, and more are available to rent or buy from streaming services way ahead of schedule.

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Warner Bros.

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Movie lovers cooped up at home because of the growing coronavirus threat are getting an unexpected but welcome treat from Hollywood studios: early video-on-demand (VOD) releases of some recent blockbusters, including some films still in theaters (the few that are open, that is).

Following the unprecedented closure of movie theaters around the globe to help curb the spread of COVID-19, movie studios have been frantically shuffling their schedules, postponing some of their biggest releases (such as No Time to Die, A Quiet Place 2, and F9) for months or even until next year.

But Hollywood isn’t only throwing out the rule book as far as their upcoming releases go; they’re also shattering the traditional three-month U.S. theatrical window when it comes to more recent and even current movie releases.

That means instead of waiting until (most likely) May to rent the hit horror movie The Invisible Man on iTunes or Amazon Prime Video, Universal went ahead and released it in mid-March, way ahead of schedule.

Read on for a list of big Hollywood movies that are coming early to VOD in the U.S., with more sure to follow:

Artemis Fowl

U.S. theatrical release date: Originally scheduled for May 29

VOD release date: To be announced

Price: Free for Disney+ subscribers

This Kenneth Branagh-directed adventure yarn about a 12-year-old genius on a quest to find his father was supposed to land in theaters in late May. Clearly that’s not happening anymore, so instead the live-action firm will debut on Disney+, although a specific date hasn’t been set yet.

The Call of the Wild

U.S. theatrical release date: February 21, 2020

VOD release date: March 27

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

The latest remake of Jack London’s classic novel got mixed reviews, with critics dinging the “uncanny” CGI look of the film’s canine protagonist, but Harrison Ford’s characteristically gruff yet warm-hearted performance earned wide acclaim. The Call of the Wild struggled at the box office, but its early VOD release along with its sweeping outdoor setting may be just the thing we need right now.

Downhill

U.S. theatrical release date: February 14, 2020

VOD release date: March 27

Price: $15 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

A remake of a 2014 Swedish film, Force Majeure, that many critics considered a classic, Downhill stars Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Will Farrell as a couple whose rocky relationship is put to the test following an accident at a ski resort. Yes, it’s comedy, albeit a pitch-black one, and the consensus seems to be that the Swedish original was way better. Still, fans of Louis-Dreyfuss and Farrell may enjoy watching these versatile actors venture into darker territory.

The Lovebirds

U.S. theatrical release date: Originally scheduled for April 3

VOD release date: No details yet

Price: Free for Netflix subscribers

The Lovebirds marks the first early-VOD-release movie on our list to make a COVID-19-related jump directly to Netflix. Starring Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as an on-the-rocks couple who get mixed up in a murder mystery, The Lovebirds was supposed to land in theaters on April 3, but instead it’s expected to debut on Netflix, with a release date to be “announced soon.”

Bad Boys for Life

U.S. theatrical release date: January 7

VOD release date: March 31

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

The return of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to their blockbuster Bad Boys franchise is the biggest box office hit of the year so far, and it arrived on VOD on March 31, a good month or so before it normally would have arrived.

Sonic the Hedgehog

U.S. theatrical release date: January 25

VOD release date: March 31

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Sonic saves the world (again), this time thwarting the evil plans of Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) with assistance from The Donut Lord (James Marsden). If that doesn’t make any sense, just ask your kids, who will be thrilled to hear that Sonic the Hedgehog will be available as an early VOD release on March 31.

Onward

U.S. theatrical release date: March 6

VOD release date: March 20 at 5 p.m. PT (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Price: $20 to buy

Starring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer, Onward received solid reviews from critics, which is to say it missed out on the raves that have greeted past Pixar classics. Still, this animated tale of a pair of elves who set off on a journey to resurrect their father should keep your housebound kids entertained, and following its VOD bow on Friday night, it’ll head to Disney+ on April 3.

The Way Back

U.S. theatrical release date: March 6

VOD release date: March 24 (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Price: $20 to buy

A drama about an alcoholic construction worker and former high school basketball star who seeks redemption by coaching the same team he used to play for, this Ben Affleck vehicle received middling reviews and box office returns, but critics singled out Affleck’s searing performance. The movie went VOD on March 24, just weeks after its initial U.S. theatrical release.

I Still Believe

U.S. theatrical release date: March 13

VOD release date: March 27

Price: No details yet

This faith-based docudrama centers on Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp and his wife, Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp, who learns prior to their marriage that she’s suffering from ovarian cancer. While the movie didn’t get a fair shake in theaters due to the growing coronavirus threat, it’ll have a better chance to find its audience once it goes the VOD way on March 27.

Bloodshot

U.S. theatrical release: March 13

VOD release date: March 24

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Vin Diesel’s PG-13-rated superhero movie may have bombed during its box office debut barely a week ago, but it’s hard to tell whether audiences stayed away because they weren’t interested or because crowding into a movie theater didn’t seem like a good idea anymore. In any case, this Matrix/Robocop rehash sounds like a welcome diversion for fans of pulpy, down-and-dirty sci-fi, and it became available for purchase online starting March 24, merely a week after its theatrical bow.

Birds of Prey

U.S. theatrical release date: February 7

VOD release date: March 24

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

This R-rated superhero (or supervillain) saga with Margot Robbie headlining as Harley Quinn failed to make a big dent in the box office, but it’s still surprising that Warner Bros. decided to release it to VOD a couple months ahead of schedule.

Emma

U.S. theatrical release date: February 21, 2020

VOD release date: March 20

Price: $20 to rent (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

A buzzy and prestigious adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Emma was still doing steady business in theaters when the first movie-screen closures hit, and now Universal is doing what would normally have been unthinkable: releasing the film to VOD on March 20 as a $20 rental.

Frozen II

U.S. theatrical release: November 22, 2019

VOD release date: Available now on Disney+

Price: Included in the price of a Disney+ subscription

As I type this very article, my seven-year-old daughter is about three feet away, asking me a question approximately every 30 seconds. Thank goodness for Disney, which decided to release the sequel to “Frozen” as a Disney+ exclusive a full three months ahead of schedule. Talk about the perfect carrot for convincing your tykes to finish their remote-learning math assignments.

The Hunt

U.S. theatrical release date: March 13, 2020

VOD release date: March 20

Price: $20 to rent (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Originally slated for theatrical release last fall, but pulled from the schedule amid controversy over its violent subject matter, The Hunt finally made its theatrical debut less than a week ago. That what makes The Hunt’s VOD release on March 20, only a week after it landed in theaters, such a head-turner.

the invisible man Universal

The Invisible Man is one of a series of recent hit movies getting an early VOD release.

The Invisible Man

U.S. theatrical release date: February 28, 2020

VOD release date: March 20

Price: $20 to rent (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Another buzzy hit from Universal, this Elizabeth Moss-starring horror film was already a hit when theaters around the globe began to shutter. Normally, it would enjoy a long run on the big screen before going VOD in the summer. Instead, The Invisible Man is now available to rent online for $20, way ahead of schedule.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

U.S. theatrical release date: December 20, 2019

VOD release date: March 13, 2020

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

The final (and to many, underwhelming) chapter of the Skywalker saga didn’t exactly go into hyperspace in terms of jumping its typical theatrical release window, but The Rise of Skywalker did manage to land on the big VOD platforms a few days early. Take it, we will.

Trolls World Tour

U.S. theatrical date: Originally scheduled for April 10

VOD release date: April 10

Price: Not confirmed yet

Trolls made a big splash when it made its way to theaters back in 2016 (clearly a lot of kids loved it, but my seven-year-old movie critic gives it an “eh”), so expectations were high when its sequel, Trolls World Tour, was scheduled for an April 10, 2020 theatrical release date. Well, that’s not going to happen, but Universal has a new plan: a so-called “day-and-date” VOD release for the big-budget kids flick.

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