Updated

These 25 movies will be available online early to help ease your coronavirus anxiety

Irresistible, Greyhound, The King of Staten Island, and more are skipping theaters and heading straight to streaming services.

spongebob spunge on the run
Paramount Pictures

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. Meanwhile, such big summer movies as Greyhound with Tom Hanks and Judd Apatow’s The King of Staten Island skipping theatrical releases altogether and going straight to digital.

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

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

U.S. theatrical release date: Originally August 7

VOD release date: Early 2021

Price: TBD, then free for CBS All Access subscribers

So, good news and bad news about the latest SpongeBob epic. Bad news first: The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which was originally slated to open on Memorial Day weekend before being rescheduled for August 7, has been pushed back to early next year. The good news: it will head directly to VOD on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu and the like before landing on CBS All Access.

The One and Only Ivan

U.S. theatrical release date: Originally August 14

VOD release date: August 21

Price: Free for Disney+ subscribers

Katherine Applegate’s celebrated children’s book about a gorilla’s unlikely friendship with a baby elephant gets an all-star animated film adaptation, complete with the voices of Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, and Bryan Cranston.

Irresistible

U.S. theatrical release date: Originally May 29

VOD release date: June 26

Price: $20 to rent

Steve Carell stars as a Democratic strategist squaring off against Republican mastermind Rose Byrne in this political satire set in a small Wisconsin town. Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne co-star in Jon Stewart’s second directorial effort. In an interesting twist, Deadline reports that Irresistible may see a small theatrical release alongside its VOD debut as movie theaters in the U.S. slowly begin to re-open.

Greyhound

U.S. theatrical release date: Originally May 8, then pushed back to June 12

VOD release date: July 10

Price: Free for Apple TV+ subscribers

Tom Hanks’s mid-budget World War II drama was supposed to land in theaters June 12 (having already been pushed back from its original May 8 theatrical date), but then Apple swooped in and scooped up the movie for a reported $70 million, outbidding the other big video-streaming players. That would make Greyhound (with a screenplay penned by Hanks based on C. S. Forester’s novel) the highest-profile movie yet to jump directly to VOD. 

The King of Staten Island

U.S. theatrical date: Originally scheduled for June 19

VOD release date: June 12

Price: TBD

Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson takes center stage in a semi-autobiographical movie from Judd Apatow, described by IndieWire as the tale of “another week-smoking slacker who dreams big but does little—until life forces his hand.” Apatow’s sprawling seriocomedies have become something of a summer tradition, and it’s nice to see that not even COVID can cancel this one.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

U.S. theatrical date: March 13

VOD release date: April 3

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

This critically acclaimed drama about a teenager and her cousin who head to New York City to deal with an unintended pregnancy won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film made its theatrical debut just as COVID-19 cases in the U.S. were beginning their steep climb, and it went the VOD way less than a month later.

The High Note

U.S. theatrical date: Originally scheduled for May 8

VOD release date: May 29

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

From director Nisha Ganatra (Late Night) comes a dramedy about a middle-aged superstar (Tracee Ellis Ross) who yearns for another hit album and her harried personal assistant (Dakota Johnson) who dreams of becoming a music producer. Sounds like they could help each other, no? From the looks of the trailer, co-star Ice Cube looks to have a scene-stealing supporting role.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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

VOD release date: March 13, 2020 (for purchase), May 4 (Disney+)

Price: $20 to buy (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu), free for Disney+ subscribers

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, and now comes word that it’ll debut on Disney+ on May 4, two months earlier than expected (and on Star Wars Day, no less).

Scoob!

U.S. theatrical date: Originally scheduled for May 15

VOD release date: May 15 (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu)

Price: $25 to rent

This all-star animated reboot of the old Scooby-Doo show stars the voices of Will Forte, Gina Rodrigues, Zac Efron, and Amanda Seyfried, who play Shaggy, Velma, Fred, and Daphne. Originally slated to arrive in theaters on May 15, Scoob! will now land on VOD as a $20 rental on the same day as its canceled theatrical debut.

Artemis Fowl

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

VOD release date: June 12

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+ starting on June 12.

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, 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, $5.99 to rent (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)

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