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Trolls World Tour was primed to be a box office success this spring, but that all changed when theaters across the country began to close due to COVID-19 concerns. As a result, Universal Pictures opted to release the film theatrically and digitally on opening day. While many were unsure of how the film would perform as a VOD release, but it looks like its gamble has paid off in a big way.
In the three weeks since its digital release, Trolls World Tour has earned over $100 million in rental sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that the movie has amassed nearly five million digital rentals and, as a result, it’s earned more revenue than its 2016 predecessor did during its five-month run in theaters.
As of right now, Trolls World Tour has raked in $77 million in revenue for Universal, which equates to $95 million in rental fees from those five million viewers, according to a source.
The trade also mentions that due to this reception, Universal Pictures is now considering digital releases as options for the future – even after the film industry returns to normal. These sentiments were echoed by NBCUniversal head Jeff Shell, who has been pondering the viability of premium video on demand content for some time now:
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.
So far, the moviegoing public seems to have generally positive feelings about the film’s release, though some parents have gotten a little tired of their children watching it for the umpteenth time. Still, it’s garnered relatively positive reviews from critics, with many citing it as being on par with the original.
Some of the film’s stars also seem to be pleased with how it was released. Trolls star Anna Kendrick was particularly happy that people would still get a chance to see it on opening day.
However, the reception hasn’t been without some controversy, as John Fithian, the head of the National Association of Theater Owners, expressed dissatisfaction with both Universal’s decision to go digital and its marketing strategy afterward.
When you pair the numbers with the fact that Trolls World Tour had the biggest debut ever for a digital release, one can understand why NBCUniversal would want to explore new options. Jeff Shell’s comments certainly indicate that Universal Pictures is going to test the waters when it comes to the digital format. Although, this will likely be limited to certain movies. It would be hard to see the studio digitally release the Jurassic World: Dominion on opening day. Nevertheless, this could have some major ramifications on the film industry moving forward.
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