Entertainment Industry Responds to Coronavirus With Early VOD Releases, Special Offers

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Well, here we are in the new age of fear and virus loathing. Concerts, conferences and sporting events have been cancelled, school is going totally online, restaurants are closing and public places of entertainment like movie theaters are shuttering for the immediate future.

That massive social-isolation shift to our own couch and kitchen table has also motivated forces in the entertainment world, however, to rethink their means of keeping you engaged and entertained. Some movie distributors are finding ways to stream their new films into your living room rather than postpone their release to some months down the road. Some artists are bypassing the auditoriums and offering more intimate Insta gigs. Concerts are being streamed for free. And some major paid streaming entities are offering extended free-trial periods and other budget-blanket-bingos to help ease you into their loyal flocks.

So, let’s take a look at some I’m-bored-with-nothing-to-do opportunities you might avail yourself of. (After checking the Plugged In review of it, of course.)

Many studios are shuffling some of their recent releases to video way earlier than they originally planned. The Hunt and Bloodshot, which just hit theaters last week, may both be available through video-on-demand soon—like, in the case of The Hunt, tomorrow soon. Bloodshot will wait until March 24 to trundle to VOD. Normally, studios wait at least 90 days before sending their movies to the small screen, but these are strange times.

New-ish releases such as Emma., The Invisible Man and Birds of Prey will share VOD space soon, as well. Emma and Invisible head to video this Friday, while Birds will wait until March 24. Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is already available to buy via VOD, as are Jumanji: The Next Level and the kid-friendly Spies in Disguise. For those looking to catch up on Plugged In’s “best movies” entries, the delightful Oscar-winning film Little Women is available now on VOD, too.

Oh, and if you and your children are disappointed that Universal Pictures’ Trolls World Tour wouldn’t release to theaters as planned on April 10, you can sleep a little easier: It’ll be hitting the video-on-demand circuit April 10, instead.

If you’re hankering for more of a faith-based cinematic experience, we’ve got you covered, too. CBN Films’ I Am Patrick, originally slated to play as a Fathom Event this week, is now available on DVD instead. And the animated version of The Pilgrim’s Progress (which also landed on Plugged In’s “best of” lists) is now available online, too–and, until April 30, it’ll be free to see.

For those who don’t want to shell out extra cash for just one movie, plenty of streaming services have some special offers for you.

Paid Major Streamers

Amazon Prime Video is currently offering a free 30-day trial, then charges $13 a month or $119 per year once the trial is over.

Likewise Hulu offers a 30-day free trial, then charges anywhere from $5.99 a month for Hulu with ads to $60.99 a month for ad-free Hulu +.

Disney+ not only gives you a 7-day free by period to binge on Disney, Pixar and Marvel classics, it just early released Frozen II for the kiddos in the crib ($6.99 per month after).

STARZ has a deal for new corona-curious customers: $4.99 a month for the first three months and then after that the cost increases to $8.99 a month.

Netflix is still king of streaming, of course, but if you’re that single holdout you can stroll in for a 30-day free trial, and then figure out how much of your budget and life you’ll invest from there.

Other big players are fairly standard. For instance, HBO offers a limited number of free pilots and series on its website and a seven-day free trial for its HBO Now streaming service ($14.99 a month after that). Showtime has a 14-day free trial ($10.99 a month after that). Apple TV+ gifts you with a free one-year subscription if you purchase an Apple product (or a seven-day free trial  with 4.99 after). And CBS All Access has a seven-day free trial offer and a couple different monthly price plans after that.

Smaller Players

If you’re feeling more niche-focused, you might turn your cinephile gaze toward 14 days of free Criterion fare. Or if you’re in need of a vaca stroll in an anime world, Crunchyroll offers a 14-day free trial of its premium, ad-free stream. After the trial it’s $7.99 a month. And if the wallet is feeling tight, you can get some ad-infused anime absolutely free as well. Hankering for a month of free pumped muscle beatdowns? WWE Network has you covered.

Horror streamer Shudder is reportedly extending its normal seven-day free trial to 30 days with the promo code SHUTIN. UK streaming site Acorn TV has extended its trial to 30 days with the promo code FREE30. And Tubi and Pluto TV are completely free movie and TV streamers supported by ads.

Gimme Free Baby

If you’re into paying absolutely nothing, but dig you some classical music, the Berlin Philharmonic has made its Digital Concert Hall—the most technologically advanced orchestral live video streaming service—free for the time being. And you can also tap into free streams of the Metropolitan Opera.

PBS is streaming Ken Burns’ nine-part film “Baseball” for nada. That alone is more than 18  hours of good stuff for the sports-deprived masses. Looking for some different sorts of shut in culture? You can virtually tour some 500 different museums to your heart’s content. And don’t forget all the free Instagram shout outs and song fests from artists such as John Legend, Chris Martin, Katherine McPhee, and on and on the list goes. Likely playing as you read this. Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman pushed his own one-song mini-concert to the masses just the other day.


Yep, we may be shut in and working at our kitchen tables, but we’re sure not shut down when it comes to our entertainment hours, no matter what your budget. And hey, you can stay in your jammies all day: there a good side to every  bad penny.