Universal Makes $100 Million In Online Release Of Trolls World Tour

Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of movie theaters all over, Universal Studios made a bold move by offering some of their films to be available for at-home rental online. This was an experimental decision made by the company in efforts to adapt to the worldwide quarantine.

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Universal announced that it's bigger films like Fast and Furious 9 and Christopher Nolan's Tenet will have their releases at a later time in hopes of theaters re-opening but have found great success in the online releases of a few films like the Trolls sequel and The Invisible Man. Trolls World Tour has earned nearly $100 million in online rentals in only 3 weeks, which is more than the original Trolls made for Universal in 5 months in theaters.

Jeff Shell, head of NBCUniversal said in a public statement "The results for 'Trolls World Tour' have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of [online releases]. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats."

AMC Theaters Responds By Banning Universal Films To Be Shown At Their Theaters

The 100-year-old and well-established company AMC Theaters currently holds the largest share of US theater markets and has responded to this industry-changing statement. Theaters have long since had a deal with film companies of a 90-day window of theater exclusive releases and AMC is furious with Universal for "breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies." 

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AMC Theaters wrote to the head of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and declared it will no longer play any Universal Pictures films in their theaters. "This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as out theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat."

AMC said it is open to "sit down with Universal to discuss different windows strategies" but that because Universal did not speak with AMC first before making their choice to stream online "our decades of incredibly successful business activity together has sadly come to an end."

Universal had since responded by saying the company is disappointed by AMC's actions. Many have been predicting film studios adapting to online streaming releases over theater releases but now the pandemic seems to have forced a speedier transition. We will have to wait and see how these major moves affect the rest of the film industry now and after theaters reopen.