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Horror thriller 'Antebellum' shifts to VOD release, latest major film to skip U.S. theaters

By Nivea Serrao
Antebellum final poster

With coronavirus case numbers on the rise, yet another feature film is foregoing a theatrical run for one on video on demand. This time, it’s horror-thriller Antebellum starring Janelle Monáe (Homecoming).

Written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, the upcoming Lionsgate feature revolves around Veronica Henley (Monáe), a successful author who must fight to break free from the horrible reality she’s trapped in when she gets sent back to the pre-Civil War South. 

"While we designed Antebellum to be consumed as a communal experience in the theater, we are thrilled by the unique opportunity we have to pivot to a different kind of communal moment in our culture," said Bush and Renz in a statement about the film's new premiere plans. "As we face the realities of systemic racism in our country, which have crescendoed to this current inflection point in 2020, we understand how imperative it is to bring Antebellum to the broadest audience possible, while also prioritizing health and safety. It is our ardent hope that by sharing our film widely, both nationally and internationally, we will transform the moviegoing experience from home into a true event."

 A new, final trailer has also been released. Check it out below:

This isn't the first time the ongoing pandemic has affected the film's theatrical release, with its original April 24 release date having been pushed back to August 21, before temporarily being taken off the studio's release schedule completely for a while. The answer now seems to be premium VOD, where Antebellum will make its debut on Sept. 18 — at least in the United States. The film will still be released in movie theaters in select international markets where they've reopened.   

Antebellum is the latest in a series of high-profile films this year to make the shift to VOD, with both Mulan and Bill & Ted Face the Music having pivoted to the platform in recent weeks, and animated features Trolls and Scoob! already having done so earlier in the year. 

“While the theatrical experience will always be the heart of our business, we are thrilled that we are able to seize the opportunity to match Gerard and Chris’s urgent and immediate film with a release strategy befitting this moment of extraordinary change,” said Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. “Gerard and Chris are storytellers whose work beats with authenticity – not only will this film entertain and thrill audiences worldwide, but spark a discussion about our current world.”

Antebellum also stars Marque Richardson, Eric Lange, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Rob Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and Jena Malone

Antebellum will be available to rent on VOD on Sept. 18. 

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