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SYFY WIRE coronavirus

WIRE Buzz: Bloodshot hitting VOD early; Nickelodeon launches #KidsTogether; more

By Josh Weiss & Benjamin Bullard

Less than a week after Bloodshot opened in theaters, Sony Pictures announced today that the Valiant-inspired comic book film will hit digital platforms next Tuesday, March 24. With all major theater chains closing down across the country this week due to the coronavirus outbreak, it's a rather bold and inspired move in an unprecedented situation.

"Sony Pictures is firmly committed to theatrical exhibition and we support windowing," studio chairman Tom Rothman said Wednesday (via The Hollywood Reporter). "This is a unique and exceedingly rare circumstance where theaters have been required to close nationwide for the greater good and Bloodshot is abruptly unavailable in any medium. Audiences will now have the chance to own Bloodshot right away and see it at home, where we are all spending more time. We are confident that — like other businesses hit hard by the virus — movie theaters will bounce back strongly, and we will be there to support them."


Helmed by VFX veteran Dave Wilson, Bloodshot debuted to around $9.3 million at the North American box office last weekend, which saw a 20-year low due to the coronavirus. Sony's quick shift over to home devices should help recoup at least some of the project's $45 million production budget by attracting individuals who may not have caught the flick in theaters during the best of times. 

Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Talulah Riley, and Alex Hernandez make up the picture's cast.


Sony isn't the first film company to announce early digital releases amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Universal and Warner Bros. have already promised to make movies like The Hunt, The Invisible Man, Trolls World Tour, and Birds of Prey available on home release much earlier than expected.

In addition, Disney published Frozen II on Disney+ three months early, while Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrived on digital platforms ahead of its original on-sale date of Mar. 17.

To help guide families with young children through the current health scare, Nickelodeon has launched #KidsTogether, "a global, multi-platform prosocial initiative with tips for kids and families on how to stay healthy during the viral outbreak, as well as ideas for activities to do together at home," per Deadline.

Using its cartoon mascots like SpongeBob Squarepants, the network is producing a number of PSAs that contain kid-friendly explanations of social distancing, hand washing, and physical well-being.

Today's educational video (taken directly from the SpongeBob Season 3 episode entitled "Krusty Krab Training Video") shows Bikini Bottom's happy-go-lucky fry cook vigorously washing his hands in soapy water until they've disappeared from cleanliness.

Working with GoNoodle, Nick is also offering print-out activity and coloring sheets inspired by Blue's Clues and Bubble Guppies.

Starting next week, Nick's learning service for preschoolers, Noggin, will become freely available to millions of kids in need for three months.

Finally, what better way to spend all the self-quarantined downtime at home than with a Star Wars-approved, Joonas Suotamo-hosted Wookiee watch party?

The Chewbacca actor put out the call to Twitter followers from the official Star Wars account this week, inviting fans to show up online this Friday for an all-together streaming get-together. The idea, of course, is for fans to tune in all at once to take in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker all at once, with Suotamo towering over the proceedings as your 6’11’’ virtual emcee.

Suotamo will interact with fans and answer questions throughout the viewing event, as fans keep one eye on Twitter while Rey finds her place in the galaxy on the small screen. Thanks to the increasing number of people staying indoors on the advice of public health officials in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Disney and Lucasfilm decided to make The Rise of Skywalker available to buy on digital platforms early, pushing its streaming release to Mar. 13 instead of its planned Mar. 17 premiere date.

That means the movie is available for purchase now on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, and Vudu — though so far, there’s no word on when it’ll land at Disney+ to complete that platform’s full nine-movie lineup of the entire Skywalker saga. Join in the Force-filled fun starting at 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET) this Friday, Mar. 20, when Suotamo and fans worldwide hit the “play” button in unison.