Universal’s “The King of Staten Island” — a semi-autobiographical comedy starring Pete Davidson and directed by Judd Apatow — is going straight to video on demand, making it the latest film to forgo a traditional theatrical release as cinemas remain closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“The King of Staten Island” will premiere on home entertainment June 12, a week before it was scheduled to debut on the big screen. Davidson and Apatow announced the news in a video posted to Twitter, in which they joked about the status of their film before opting to call Universal and ask them to put it on demand early. At one point, Davidson asks, “Am I still going to get an Oscar?”
It’s the second Universal movie, following the studio’s animated adventure “Trolls World Tour,” to experiment with premium video on demand while audiences are stuck at home during the pandemic. In recent weeks, other studios including Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount and STX have followed suit to varying degrees. Warner Bros. is releasing “Scoob,” a cartoon based on Scooby-Doo characters, directly on digital rental services next month, while Disney announced “Artemis Fowl” would launch exclusively on Disney Plus in June.
After the unexpected success of “Trolls World Tour,” which Universal claims set a new record for digital rentals, the studio had been mulling the possibility of amending release plans for “The King of Staten Island” since it’s unclear when movie theaters across the country will be able to resume business.
“The King of Staten Island” was scheduled to have its world premiere at South by Southwest, the film festival held annually in Austin, Texas. However, the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A slew of movies that were set to debut between May and August, including Disney’s “Mulan,” Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman 1984” and Universal’s “Fast 9,” have been postponed due to the unprecedented closure of multiplexes. Universal has also delayed the release of “Sing 2” and “Minions: Rise of Gru,” its “Candyman” remake and “Nobody,” a thriller starring Bob Odenkirk.
“The King of Staten Island” was co-written by Apatow and Dave Sirus. The comedy is loosely based off Davidson’s upbringing in the New York City borough, including losing his father during 9/11 and entering the world of stand-up comedy. Maude Apatow, Judd Apatow’s daughter, also stars in “The King of Staten Island” alongside Bel Powley, Marisa Tomei and Bill Burr.