After Universal Pictures decided to send “Trolls World Tour” directly to pay-per-view streaming instead of postponing its April 10 release, theaters got nervous about the implications for the movie-going industry. They may have been justified.
As of Tuesday, the “Trolls World Tour” movie has raised nearly $100 million after direct-streaming for only three weeks, a mere fraction of the time it took the original movie to raise an equal amount, reports The Wall Street Journal.
And, in response to the movie’s smashing success, Universal Pictures now says that it will look into releasing future movies in theaters, and through on-demand services simultaneously.
“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of [premium video on demand]” said Jeff Shell, chief executive of NBCUniversal, reports the news agency. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
The “Trolls World Tour” revelations, coupled with the presumptive new direction of Universal Studios, has prompted AMC Theatres to say it will boycott the film studio’s current and future projects, reports The Los Angeles Times.
“Effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” said Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC, in a statement addressed to Universal Pictures. “This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.”
The National Association of Theatre Owners, which represents over 35,000 movie screens across the nation, has also pushed back against Universal Pictures, warning the studio against drawing conclusions from a movie that was heavily marketed as a theatrical release.
“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases,” said John Fithian, president and chief executive of the organization. “We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”
After AMC and the theatre association pushed back against Universal Pictures, the studio said that it was not looking to upend the movie theater industry, and accused the two organizations of engaging in a “coordinated” move, according to a statement obtained by Deadline.
“We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary,” said the statement. “We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions.”
CNBC reports that the long-time theatrical release window for movies to enter the home-viewing market has been three months, a length of time that represents a compromise between theaters and studios.
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