New movies such as the Jane Austen comedy Emma — which opened just three weeks ago — will be available for streaming starting Friday, March 20, along with the Feb. 28 release of The Invisible Man and last week's The Hunt. You can see them all, months earlier than usual, for $20 each, on Comcast video on demand, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play and FandangoNow. Disney's Frozen 2 started streaming three months ahead of schedule, on March 15 (see it on Disney+, Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay and Vudu).
Studios have long wanted to release movies to your home the same day as in theaters, but theater owners fought it, fearing loss of revenue. With theaters closed, Universal's Emma, The Invisible Man and The Hunt are breaking what's called the “90-day window,” the period when movies screen only in theaters, not in homes.
While older movies may be seen for cheap or free, prices for newer movies are higher, because massive ads and publicity make more people want to see them. It's been 90 days since Little Women was released, so you can buy it digitally for $14.99. Later on, it may rent for $3.99 or less. Disney's first Frozen is $1.99 now.
Free trials may be canceled at any time, but if you don't (or forget), the services will start billing.
Amazon Prime Video
Besides originals like the Shia LaBeouf's excellent fictionalized film about his father, Honey Boy, and the triple Oscar-nominated grownup love story Cold War, Amazon has a vast trove of movies and shows from major studios. After the free trial: $13 a month, $119 a year. If you have Amazon Prime for free delivery of other products, you've already got the streaming service, too.
30-day free trial: Amazon.com
The popular streaming site offers several tiers of service, so it makes sense to try the top one, Premium with Ultra HD (4k), for free — and you can use it on up to four devices. If you've ever had a Netflix account, you can use your email to open a new free trial account. After the free trial: $9 to $16 a month.
30-day free trial: Netflix.com
Famous for TV shows, it's also got great films like 2019's Booksmart, which got unfairly overlooked in theaters. After the free trial: $5.99 a month with ads, $60.99 a month with no ads, plus live TV.
30-day free trial: Hulu.com
You can watch pilot episodes of True Detective, Game of Thrones, Chernobyl and Big Little Lies for free, and a good selection of movies, recent and classic. After the free trial: $14.99 a month.