While the Trolls franchise is all about sunshine, rainbows and hugs, the reception of Trolls World Tour has left a bad taste in AMC Theatres’ mouths. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some studios decided to release their new films digitally for a higher price so that viewers could still enjoy their new releases from the safety of their own homes. The decision has proven to be a lucrative one as in just three weeks, Trolls World Tour earned $100 million in rentals. This prompted NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell to say that Universal will open titles digitally and in cinemas at the same time.
“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”Jeff Shell, Wall Street Journal
Before the pandemic, there was normally a 90 day gap between films being released to cinema to digital. Naturally, this will have a significant impact on cinemas who will already be struggling to claw back profits from the effects of the pandemic. AMC Theaters chairman-CEO Adam Aron has expressed his dismay at the decision and made his own – to refuse to play Universal films in his theatres.
“It is disappointing to us,” he said, “But Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East.”
“This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.”
Fears for the state of film and cinema are rife and it will be interesting to see whether any other production companies make the same decision as Universal. What do you think? Is PVOD the future?