In a sign of things to come as cinemas are shuttered the world over, Netflix has started buying up movies that have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
US website Deadline first reported Netflix was close to inking a deal with Paramount to buy the distribution rights to comedy The Lovebirds.
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Netflix Australia has confirmed the reports to news.com.au, and that The Lovebirds will be a global Netflix release, which includes Australia. A premiere date has not been set.
The comedy starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani was originally to be released in cinemas on April 2 in Australia, but had been delayed alongside A Quiet Place II earlier this month.
Rae and Nanjiani play a couple who become unintentionally mixed up in a murder mystery. The movie is directed by Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer), who also directed The Big Sick , which Nanjiani wrote with his wife Emily V. Gordon, earning the couple an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Rae created and stars in HBO series Insecure while Nanjiani will next be seen in Marvel movie The Eternals.
The Lovebirds looks to be the kind of easy-going comedy which usually performs well on the streaming platform.
Deadline reported the deal had "been in the works for a while" so it's possible negotiations had predated the thrust of virus-induced upheaval in the film industry. The Lovebirds had been removed from a release schedule issued by Paramount Australia in mid-February while A Quiet Place II was still on the list.
The Lovebirds was to have its worldwide premiere at SXSW before the festival was cancelled.
In the past, Paramount has offloaded other movies to Netflix, including The Cloverfield Paradox and Annihilation, if it felt it could recoup more money from a sale than a challenging cinema release.
The entertainment industry has been in a state of chaos in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing productions to be suspended and movie releases to be delayed for months or indefinitely, including Mulan and No Time To Die.
In the US, where state and city-wide lockdowns have forced cinemas to close doors, studios have shifted release strategies by making available some current in-cinema movies to video-on-demand for home viewing, including The Invisible Man, Bloodshot and Emma.
Disney was the latest mover when it announced overnight its current Pixar movie Onward, which is in Australian cinemas this weekend for sneak previews, will be released on video-on-demand today, followed by its debut on streaming platform Disney+ by early April.
Expedited video-on-demand or streaming releases have so far not been replicated in Australia, except in the case of Frozen 2, which was released on Disney+ three months early in markets where the streaming service is available.
Trolls World Tour, which will be released in the US directly to video-on-demand this month has been held back in Australia for a theatrical release in September.