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Movies coming to streaming services early because of coronavirus

In late 2019, a highly contagious form of coronavirus known as COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan province of China, and before we knew it, COVID-19 was everywhere. Cases in the U.S. and overseas countries continue to rise — there's even a handy resource you can use to track domestic and international coronavirus cases in real time — and world governments are making a serious effort to stem the pandemic before it gets worse, known as "flattening the curve." This has involved closing everything from bars to restaurants to movie theaters, encouraging everyone to practice social distancing, and suggesting individuals self-quarantine if they can. The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has essentially stopped several industries in their tracks, most notably the entertainment industry.

Plenty of movie and TV productions have been completely shut down due to the coronavirus, as studios try and prevent large groups of people from spending too much time in the same spot. Some huge films — including No Time to Die (Daniel Craig's final Bond film), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson's first solo outing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and F9 (the penultimate installment in the main Fast and Furious franchise) — have been delayed because of the pandemic. 

However, in order to save a few projects, some studios are releasing films ahead of schedule to stream, rent, or buy online — especially now that large portions of the world are trapped inside their homes until further notice. Here are all the movies coming to streaming services and digital platforms early because of COVID-19.

Disney released Frozen 2 on Disney+ early because of the coronavirus

As COVID-19 kept spreading, schools across the world shut their doors, leaving parents to work from home with their young children. Luckily, Disney was on hand to help, and gave parents a little gift to help keep kids stuck at home happy and occupied. In the wake of quarantine, Disney released its latest animated hit, Frozen 2, a whopping three months early to Disney+ so that parents could stream the beloved movie for their kids from the comfort of their own homes. 

When it was released in theaters in November 2019, Frozen 2 was a box office sensation and a worthy successor to the now-classic original film, so plenty of parents are happy to have it playing in their homes. However, some moms and dads are taking to social media to explain that the ability to play Frozen 2 at any time of day or night has its drawbacks; after all, there's only so many times you can listen to "Into the Unknown."

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is heading to digital platforms early

After its long-awaited release in December 2019, The Rise of Skywalker — the final film in the nine-part Skywalker Saga and the grand finale of the Star Wars sequel trilogy — made serious waves in both good and bad ways. While some fans celebrated the film for closing out the trilogy that J.J. Abrams started, plenty of people had a lot to say about the film's attempt to basically erase Rian Johnson's mid-trilogy effort The Last Jedi – including a total backtrack on Rey's (Daisy Ridley) parentage and the fact that one of Johnson's original characters, Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), was completely sidelined.

Issues aside, Disney saw fit to release The Rise of Skywalker to all digital platforms earlier than intended as more people are stuck at home during the rise of COVID-19, with physical copies coming by the end of March. In the meantime, whether you loved The Rise of Skywalker or want to pick it apart, you can download the film on several streaming platforms now.

Warner Bros.' gift for everyone in coronavirus self-quarantine is Birds of Prey

Originally subtitled "and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn," Birds of Prey soared into theaters in early February 2020, just as the COVID-19 outbreak was reaching a fever pitch around the globe. Unfortunately, it didn't get off to a particularly strong start at the box office, and even went so far as to officially shorten and alter its name to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey in order to draw a larger audience.

A fun surprise regarding Birds of Prey arrived in mid-March 2020, courtesy of Warner Bros. As everybody began to self-isolate, the studio announced that the film would be available for digital download on March 24 and would begin streaming in April. After Birds of Prey director Cathy Yan tweeted her support for releasing the movie earlier, Warner Bros. took heed, making sure the movie was available to anybody who wanted to watch at home. 

Harley Quinn may have not drawn many people to the box office, but hopefully, more people will join her for her adventures from the comfort of their couches.

Universal is making Emma. available to stream early amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Sometimes, when you're settling in for a quiet movie night, you want to watch something familiar and comforting — which is why you might want to choose the latest take on Emma during your coronavirus self-quarantine. Based on Jane Austen's classic novel — which has been adapted many times, including a Gwyneth Paltrow-led film in 1996 and Clueless, Amy Heckerling's modernized interpretation of the source material — the newest spin on Emma stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Austen's irrepressible heroine. (Wondering about the period in the new movie's title? It means that it's a "period piece.") 

Ultimately, Universal decided more people should check out Emma., the Autumn de Wilde-directed take on the tale of Emma Woodhouse and her interference in her friends' love lives. Along with a few other films, Universal has made sure Emma. is now available to digitally download on a number of different platforms. With a cast that includes Bill Nighy, Miranda Hart, Johnny Flynn, and more, this playful spin on classic literature injects some whimsy into this beloved social satire. If you need some pure escapism during these troubled times, Emma. is a perfect choice.

The Invisible Man is available to stream now, during the COVID-19 outbreak

It might seem counterintuitive to watch a horror movie at a time like this, but for people who want to lose themselves in a gripping, compelling story — and maybe enjoy a few jump scares — The Invisible Man can be seen on a screen from the comfort of your couch.

The Elisabeth Moss-led spin on H.G. Wells' novel of the same name (another work that's been adapted many times over) centers on Cecilia Kass, a woman who believes she's escaped an abusive relationship only to be haunted by the ghost of her past: her dead ex-boyfriend Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who has somehow found a way to make himself invisible even after taking his own life. The Invisible Man debuted to positive reviews in February, and now, you can watch it at home. 

Directed by horror maestro Leigh Whannell, The Invisible Man is yet another Universal property to hit digital download platforms ahead of schedule, especially when you realize it's only been in theaters for a little over a month. Since the spooks and scares of The Invisible Man have pretty much nothing to do with the current crisis raging across the world, it may well serve as the perfect distraction.

After being pulled from Universal's release schedule, The Hunt is now available to stream

After an extraordinarily troubled journey just to get a theatrical release, with the film being pulled from Universal's schedule following backlash over its politically charged plot, The Hunt hit another hurdle as movie theaters close across the world: not a whole lot of people saw it in cinemas when it finally arrived on March 13, 2020 — and not many will ever see it in theaters because of the coronavirus. However, Universal has come to its rescue and made it readily available to watch online.

The Hunt – a Blumhouse Productions outing that stars Betty Gilpin (Netflix's GLOW) alongside Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors), Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), and Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank — tells the dystopian story of two politically opposed groups dealing with their differences in the most violent way possible: those with a conservative agenda are being hunted by the others. 

After two mass shootings stopped the film's original theatrical release planned for September 2019, it seemed as if The Hunt might never see the light of day. Once it did get a theatrical release, COVID-19 hit quickly thereafter, but thankfully, it's been given a second life on digital download after Universal gave it an early digital release.

Catch Trolls World Tour on digital during coronavirus self-isolation

Many films released on demand early have been smaller ventures or had already spent a couple of weeks in actual movie theaters, but there's one big exception: Trolls World Tour, a Dreamworks project which hasn't even been released theatrically yet.

A follow-up to 2016's Trolls, which made a respectable showing its fall opening weekend that year, Trolls World Tour certainly wasn't on track to be one of Universal's biggest releases of the year. (Many of of the studio's blockbusters, including Fast & Furious 9, are currently on hold while the world waits to see what might happen with the ongoing spread of COVID-19.) Still, Trolls World Tour definitely stands to perform at least adequately with an at-home release now that consumers can't get out of the house to head to the movie theater. For anyone with young children, it's likely good news that Trolls World Tour is available as a distraction now that school is out for the foreseeable future. Thanks to Universal, there's yet another family-friendly option to keep everyone entertained.