Universal Pictures' decision to release Trolls World Tour digitally has caused a huge rift between the studio and major movie theater chains like AMC and Regal Cinemas.
Last month, Universal Pictures graced the world with Trolls World Tour and made a major decision to release the film in the few theaters not affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as select streaming services for viewers to watch at home. Stay-at-home moviegoers could spend $19.99 to rent Trolls World Tour for 48 hours. For families with kids at home, this seemed like a gesture of goodwill, something similar to Disney releasing Frozen 2 and Onward early.
But the outcome of this decision has the potential to change the future of the movie business.
To truly understand how this simple decision could completely rework movie-going in the future, we have to have a basic understanding of the agreements between studios and theaters. For a traditional release, ticket sales average out to a 50/50 split between the movie studios and the theaters, and the movie must stay exclusively in theaters for 72-90 days. Not only did the premium video-on-demand (PVOD) release break that 90-day rule, but this type of release yields 80 percent profit for the studios. A 30-percent difference in profit is way more massive than it sounds, especially when it comes to the multi-million dollar revenue that movies bring in.
These stats hit particularly hard when we look at the comparison between how much money each of the Trolls movies made. The 2016 predecessor raked in a reported $116 million in the U.S. and Canada, making about $58 million for the studio itself. Trolls World Tour is set to squash those numbers with almost $100 million in rental sales about three weeks after release, giving Universal Pictures approximately $77 million in revenue for the PVOD release.
Thrilled by the success that the at-home release has had, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the potential that the video-on-demand market has, and these comments led AMC to boycott Universal Pictures movies completely for the foreseeable future. This includes titles like Jurassic World: Dominion, the Fast and Furious franchise, and No Time to Die, the upcoming James Bond title.
So what does the bigger picture look like for the future of the movie industry?
My personal opinion is that we will certainly see PVOD releases in the future. After all, movie studios are all about revenue, so it would be foolish of them to completely overlook the money that at-home releases can make. However, once stay-at-home orders are lifted, I think people will flood the movie theaters until this pandemic is just a memory. People cannot wait to get out of their homes and just do fun things with their families, and going to the movies has been a fun family activity since the early 1900s.
Even though I think that the movie theaters will be busy post-pandemic, I believe that the money that PVOD makes and the convenience it provides will appeal greatly to the masses, as it has with Trolls World Tour.
Would you try a PVOD experience, or would you stick to the theaters? Let us know in the comments!