March 23, 2020
Paramount Pictures’ scrapped April 3 theatrical release The Lovebirds is going straight to Netflix — and apparently not to transactional VOD, retail or rental, according to a source familiar with the situation. The romantic comedy stars Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”) and Issa Rae (“Insecure”).
As Hollywood studios adjust to shuttered theaters globally in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many have expedited theatrical titles into retail channels —not third-party SVOD.
Indeed, there is no mention of the title on digital retail channels such as iTunes, Amazon, Vudu or Fangdango Now. The same for Redbox.
Paramount fast-tracked theatrical release Sonic the Hedgehog for digital purchase on March 31 from Paramount Home Entertainment. The film, which made $306.8 million at the global box office, will be available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and for rental on demand or disc May 19.
But The Lovebirds is not a proven theatrical release or franchise, and with the pandemic wreaking havoc across myriad distribution channels, taking third-party SVOD money probably seemed like a better bet.
Indeed, Netflix in 2017 acquired The Cloverfield Paradox, a science-fiction horror film Paramount had pulled from its theatrical slate. The streamer reportedly paid the studio $50 million for the rights and released it on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018.
In Paramount’s most-recent fiscal period, Paramount Home Entertainment generated more revenue from retail than the studio did from theatrical.
Netflix has not disclosed when it plans to release The Lovebirds.