With nearly five million rentals, the digital release of “Trolls World Tour” has in three weeks generated more revenue for Universal than the original “Trolls” did during its five-month theatrical run.
Last month, as the nation’s movie theaters were days from closing down, executives at Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures moved on a decision that would soon pay off handsomely.
A massive marketing campaign was already under way for the studio’s April 10 release, “Trolls World Tour,” an animated sequel to the 2016 hit. The studio decided not to postpone the opening, instead making the movie available as a digital rental on platforms like Apple Inc.’s Apple TV for $19.99.
Three weeks later, “Trolls World Tour” has racked up nearly $100 million in rentals… For studios, the prospect is especially alluring because they retain about 80% of the digital rental or purchase fee—compared with about 50% of box-office sales…
For years, studios have debated movie theaters over their requirement to show a movie exclusively for more than two months before screening at home, all while watching Netflix Inc. dominate at-home entertainment. With theaters closed, studios are jumping at the chance to experiment with getting first-run releases into the home sooner…
When Universal announced its “Trolls” release plan in March, exhibitors accused the studio of taking advantage of the pandemic to advance its long-term goal, and said practices would return to normal after the theaters reopen.
“A limited number of exceptions doesn’t really make a changed business model,” said John Fithian, chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners.
MacDailyNews Take: “And people will continue buying buggy whips!” Fithian’s great grandfather insisted.
A) $19.99 for a first-run movie in the comfort of your own house on a large screen, with controllable audio volume (even closed captioning if you desire), with the entire family and your own all-you-can-eat popcorn, candy, and drinks for under $10 total for everyone
B) At least $80.00 for a family of four with criminally-overpriced often-stale popcorn, candy, and drinks at a potentially COVID-encrusted theater packed with uncouth idiots from who-knows-where talking, eating, coughing, sneezing, crunching bags, looking their phones, getting up to go to the bathroom, etc.
It’s such a difficult choice!
The $10 bucket of 10-cents worth of popcorn and the $6 cup of 6-cents worth of soda are obvious clues that theatre owners don’t have a sustainable business model.
Bottom line: It took a global pandemic to wake up Hollywood and drag it kicking and screaming into the new millennium at least a decade late. We’re sure Steve Jobs was telling Hollywood honchos this would happen long ago.