NBCUniversal has revealed that the home rental release of Trolls World Tour was an unqualified success. It made $100 million in its first three weeks in the US alone - more than the original Trolls movie did in cinemas.
And, that has prompted the studio's boss to promise further home day-and-date Premium Video on Demand (PVOD) releases in future.
However, his comments have rubbed at least one theatre chain up the wrong way. AMC has stated that if such plans are to go ahead, it will ban Universal movies from its 1,000+ cinemas around the world.
"The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD," explained NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell to the Wall Street Journal. "As soon as theatres reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats."
AMC's CEO, Adam Aron, responded angrily in an open letter to the studio: "It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice," he wrote.
"Effective immediately, AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East."
It's a shot across the bow of the studio that could have major ramifications to its movie releases in future.
It will be interesting to see how it develops in the coming weeks and months, especially as we near an end to lockdown and cinemas start to re-open.
Things may never be the same again
Pandora's box has opened and the world will never be the same again. Okay, so that's probably a little dramatic, but it turns out when you ask people to pay more for a movie to rent it in the home earlier than normal, they are more than happy to do so. Especially when they can't actually go to the cinema because it's closed.
Raking in around $100 million in its first three weeks in the US alone, Trolls World Tour made Universal realise that it might not need cinemas as much as it thought. That, as you can imagine, as enraged theatre chains in the US, especially AMC. It has said that if NBCUinversal expects to do the same outside of lockdown, it can forget about showing its movies at any AMC cinema in the future. Ouch.
But that's a big gamble, especially when Universal has the next film in the Fast & Furious franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Sing 2, and Jurassic World: Dominion slated for release over the next year. However, it's clearly meant to be a warning shot to others contemplating similar movies - Disney is foregoing a cinematic release of Artemis Fowl in favour of putting it straight onto Disney+, for example.
This could result in a seismic shift in the way the movie industry works, even after lockdowns lift. The world is changing and, for some, it's changing forever.
As well as Trolls World Tour, Universal made several other films available on digital platforms during this lockdown, including The Invisible Man, Emma, The Hunt and Military Wives.
It's not the only studio to have pushed its cinematic releases out early, Sony Pictures has also released Bloodshot in digital form starring Vin Diesel after theatres closed in the US and UK.