Find out where, or if, Canadians will be able to watch programs from the new factual TV streaming service.
News of the World, the 2020 drama film directed and co-written by Paul Greengrass based on the novel by Paulette Giles, and starring Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel, was released in North American theatres on Friday, December 25, 2020. (It's a Western set in the 1870s, and has nothing to do with the defunct British newspaper.)
In Canada, like in the United States, News of the World is distributed by Universal Pictures and, as of this update in late December 2020, is only available in theatres in the few regions where they are permitted to be open. However, it will also have a release via premium video-on-demand (PVOD) digital rental beginning Friday, January 15, 2021.
The full list of retailers offering the movie in Canada has been posted on this Universal microsite, and includes:
- Apple TV / iTunes Store
- Cineplex Store
- Google Play Movies & TV
- Microsoft Movies & TV
- Cable / IPTV on-demand services including Bell, Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw, and Telus
The timing of this PVOD release is due to agreements announced in the latter part of 2020 between Universal and some of the major North American cinema chains, including Cineplex in Canada. Under these agreements, Universal can release movies to PVOD after as few as 17 days of theatrical exclusivity (i.e., after three weekends for a typical Friday release), unless a release has more than US$50 million gross ticket sales at the "domestic" (North American) box office during its first weekend in which case the window must be at least 31 days.
With News of the World grossing US$2.4 million in its first weekend, a PVOD release could have begun as early as Monday, January 11, though Universal has since clarified that it will instead be released that Friday instead.
Rental prices have not yet been confirmed at this point. However, Universal's other recent 2020 PVOD releases, like Trolls World Tour and Freaky, have been priced around $19.99 per 48-hour rental in Canada to start, before coming down to regular VOD rental prices (under $10 per rental) after a few months.
Isn't "News of the World" being released on Netflix internationally?
While not yet officially confirmed by either Universal or Netflix, it's been widely reported that Netflix is indeed in the process of acquiring the international distribution rights to News of the World, with the exception of – at least – the United States.
While Canada was not mentioned, reading between the lines of some of these reports – which used "United States" and "North America" interchangeably when referring to the excluded territories – combined with the fact that Universal has already released the film in Canadian theatres, leads us to believe Canada will be considered part of that exclusion as well. But we may have to wait for an official announcement to know for certain.
Even then, barring some sort of unannounced changes to the usual pattern for recent-release Universal films in Canada, it will likely be available on Netflix in Canada eventually, which brings us to...
When will "News of the World" be available on a streaming service in Canada?
Assuming there are no special provisions related to Canadian streaming in Netflix's purchase of international distribution rights to News of the World, the film's availability on subscription streaming services should follow the typical windowing pattern for Universal releases in Canada.
That would mean – assuming the contracts currently in effect stay in place, which at this stage is not guaranteed – News of the World will be available on Crave (with Movies + HBO), which holds the first pay/streaming window for Universal releases in Canada, likely starting in mid-2021. A little over a year later (by late 2022 or early 2023), the film would likely move to Netflix, which currently holds Universal's second pay window in Canada.
To give an example of how these windows currently work with Universal movies: the most recent animated film version of The Grinch was released theatrically by Universal in November 2018. It became available on Crave in June 2019 (about eight months after release), then moved to Netflix Canada in December 2020 (about 18 months after that). Again, contracts do change from time to time, but at this point we expect News of the World will most likely follow a similar pattern.
- January 11, 2021 – noting confirmation of PVOD release on January 15