Virus-shocked Hollywood gets break with streaming services

Virus-shocked Hollywood gets break with streaming services
AMC Theaters announced on Tuesday its closing its theaters after President Trump urged against gatherings of 10 or more people. (Source: CNN)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Movie theaters in the United States have closed nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s an unprecedented shutdown for nearly all of the country’s 40,000-plus screens, prompting Americans to turn to streaming services.

Sports are on hold and amusement parks have closed nationwide.

But Americans held captive at home by the coronavirus can turn to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming services, outliers in an entertainment industry otherwise brought to an unprecedented standstill.

One analyst says the demand for streaming services will only increase with consumers around the world stuck in place.

Disney’s new streaming service responded by making “Frozen 2” available earlier than planned, but so far major streamers have yet to announce major changes in their lineups or reduced subscriptions prices.

Some niche streamers are extending their free-trial window from a week to 30 days.

The largest chains had tried to remain open even as Hollywood postponed its upcoming release plans. But guidelines for social distancing steadily diminished the recommended size of crowds.

President Trump on Monday urged against gatherings of more than 10 people.

AMC Theaters, the nation’s largest chain, said Tuesday its theaters would close altogether for at least six to 12 weeks. Regal Movies followed suit and announced they will be closing their theaters indefinitely starting Tuesday.

Universal Pictures on Monday said it will make its current and upcoming films available for on-demand rental, becoming the first major studio to turn directly to home viewing in light of the virus.

The studio said it will put movies currently in theaters — “Invisible Man,” “The Hunt,” “Emma” — up for rental on-demand beginning as early as Friday.

It also said that “Trolls World Tour," one of the only major release left on the April film-release calendar, will open “day-and-date,” debuting in theaters and on-demand services as a $19.99 rental simultaneously.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. Gray Media, Inc. contributed to this report.