‘Trolls World Tour’ changed the future of movies: AMC and NBCUniversal go first

Chris Burns - Apr 29, 2020, 10:37am CDT
‘Trolls World Tour’ changed the future of movies: AMC and NBCUniversal go first

The film ‘Trolls World Tour’ changed the way movies were released to the public, and AMC isn’t happy about it. As the world dropped into quarantine, Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures decided to modify the way in which the new Trolls movie was delivered. Instead of an “only in theaters” release on April 10, or a postponing of release, Universal Pictures sent the film to digital rental platforms. The results were massively positive.

A significant amount of promotion’s taken place between the original Trolls’ release in the year 2016, and here in the Spring of 2020. The 2016 film reinvigorated the Trolls toy market, Trolls became a Netflix episodic streaming TV show, and a wide variety of 3rd-party products were made. Here in 2020, the world is much more attuned to Trolls as a household name brand than it was in 2016.

But the difference is massive. Per the Wall Street Journal (linked below), the release of the film digitally in 2020 has taken in more cash in 3 weeks than the original did in theaters for 5 months. According to Deadline, the truth is slightly more complicated. Deadline suggested that the 2020 movie’s picked up “$95M in rental fees in the title’s first 19 days” and that the company’s got an estimated 80/20 deal that’ll get them “an estimated $77M in revenues before marketing expenses.”

In any case, NBCUniversal sees this as a victory. A story in The Wall Street Journal quoted NBCUniversal’s CEO Jeff Shell as saying “The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.” This did not sit well with AMC CEO Adam Aron.

Aron announced a ban of Universal Studios movies in their theater in a letter to Universal chairman Donna Langley on Tuesday. “Effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” said the statement.

Per Mediapost, “with movie theaters closing down, some analysts have surmised AMC Theaters — and perhaps other chains — might be forced to file for bankruptcy.”


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