As theaters reopen and the North American box office regrows, studios are continuing to experiment with new release strategies for films. Universal will simultaneously release The Boss Baby: Family Business on Peacock and in theaters. The animated sequel will debut on July 2, over two months earlier than the initially slated premiere date of September 17.
According to NBCUniversal, Peacock has garnered more than 42 million subscriptions since its soft launch in April 2020. The Boss Baby: Family Business will be available to Peacock’s Premium and Premium Plus subscribers for no extra fee. Peacock also has a free subscription model that includes a limited library and ad-supported programming.
As Peacock has not yet launched overseas, Universal will also release the animated movie in some international theatrical markets on July 2.
The Boss Baby: Family Business is NBCUniversal’s first foray into a hybrid theatrical-streaming release, a model that WarnerMedia and Disney have employed during the pandemic. Warner Bros. has continued with its decision to debut its 2021 slate of theatrically-released movies concurrently on HBO Max for a one-month exclusive window. The strategy began with Wonder Woman 1984 in December and will carry through to upcoming blockbusters like Dune and The Suicide Squad.
Meanwhile, Disney will release Black Widow and Cruella in theaters and through $30 rentals on Disney Plus as part of the streaming service’s Premier Access program. The studio is also planning to make Pixar’s upcoming film Luca available to Disney Plus subscribers at no extra cost.
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In the early stages of the pandemic last April, theater owners threatened to boycott Universal’s slate of movies after the studio announced plans to release Trolls World Tour in theaters and on demand simultaneously. An agreement was reached in which Universal would release is theatrical films on video-on-demand services 17 days after their theatrical debut, which led to a respectable $167.5 million global box office gross for The Croods: A New Age last fall.
In our review of The Boss Baby, IGN gave the first animated film a 4.8, saying the movie was filled with “nothing but noticeably subpar moments and emotional beats that are too complicated and nonsensical to ring true in any way,”
J. Kim Murphy is a freelance entertainment writer.