The “Trolls World Tour” has earned up nearly $100 million in digital rents for more than three weeks. Hence it is lesser than the first “Trolls” film collected at the domestic box office with an amount of $153.7 million. The success has encouraged Universal to resort to making digital releases in the near future. However, the company is still in a blur with the theater owners.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed how people reconnect with movies without going to theaters. Streaming services are trendy and on demand these days. With the changes in movie studios, they have opted to cancel the schedule of movie releases until cinemas will open their operations, but a few films have resorted to streaming services for accessibility of their films at homes than releasing it to the theaters which is risky nowadays. It is unclear how Universal’s decision to release more movies on demand will affect their relationship with theaters, respectively.
Universal’s “Trolls World Tour” became available as a digital rental on April 10 for $19.99. Three weeks later, it had racked up nearly $100 million in rentals, a person familiar with the data said. While this figure is smaller than the $153.7 million that the first “Trolls” film collected at the domestic box office, the revenue that Universal has secured has been about the same for the two films, this person said. The statistics were made in public by The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Consequently, 50% of box office sales majority comes from the theaters depending on the negotiation made with the studio. Sadly, theaters acquired not even a half so “Trolls” only invested around $77 million into Universal’s budget by the end of its roll in North America. For comparison, Universal has redeemed about 80% of the digital rental and streaming services or purchase fee for “Trolls World Tour.” In simple words, in US atleast, “Trolls World Tour” was actually more economical for Universal than “Trolls”.
Moreover, The Hunt,” “Emma” and “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” “The Invisible Man,” movies that were showing in theaters when social distancing sprung made cinemas to temporarily close their operations, have garnered around $60 million in rental fees, $48 million of which has gone straight to Universal, the representative elaborated the statistics.
“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Jeff Shell, head of the film studio’s parent division, NBCUniversal, told the Journal.
This could be the reason Universal decided to release Judd Apatow’s “The King of Staten Island,” starring Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live,” on demand June 12 instead of releasing it in theaters.
Theater owners had no choice but to extend their patience when movies that had already been in theaters have resorted to home streaming because of the unexpected circumstances brought by the pandemic. However, theaters were sentimental over the deals they have plotted over to studios taking films that will have their initial releases and the investments they have pushed through.
The National Association of Theatre Owners did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. Of course, majority of the films studio will most likely cancel theatrical releases for films and set digital releases instead. Warner Bros.’ “Scoob” will go to video on demand on May 15 for a $19.99 rental fee or $24.99 to own. The AT&T-owned company also purchased the rights to Sony’s “An American Pickle,” a Seth Rogan movie that will now go to HBO Max. And in the case “Artemis Fowl” , will be streaming straight to Disney+ instead of waiting for theaters to open.
Of course, studios will not totally shoo away the theaters. The traditional cinema is still everybody wants that reason why the demand, or plan to, are low- to mid-tier-budget films are also working to make it happen someday.
“We haven’t seen a movie go to streaming that was expected to be a blockbuster,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.
Universal’s “F9,” the next installment in the “Fast and Furious” franchise, moved to 2021 so that it could have a global theatrical release. “Furious 7,” which was released in 2015, hauled in more than $1.5 billion globally, and “Fate of the Furious,” released in 2017, had $1.24 billion in ticket sales. Also, the upcoming movies “Black Widow” and “Mulan” are bound to be rescheduled.