Lionsgate announced on Thursday that it will release the Janelle Monae horror film “Antebellum” as a premium video-on-demand title for $19.99 on Sept. 18, one week after pulling the film from a planned theatrical release on Aug. 21.
Written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, “Antebellum” stars Monae as Veronica Henley, a successful writer who finds herself wrenched back through time to the era of slavery in the Deep South. The film also stars Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe, Marque Richardson, Robert Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and newcomer Tongayi Chirisa.
“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 Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman Joe Drake. “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.”
“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,” Bush and Renz said. “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.”
“Antebellum” is the latest film to move from theatrical to PVOD release as the future of movie theaters remains uncertain thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Major chains like AMC plan to reopen later this month in advance of the release of “Tenet” on labor day weekend, but Disney announced earlier this week that it would move its remake of “Mulan” to PVOD, making it available to Disney+ subscribers for an extra price of $29.99 while maintaining theatrical release in countries that do not have the streaming service. Disney CEO Bob Chapek said that the move is not an indicator of long-term plans to abandon the theatrical release, but was only done in response to the pandemic.