April 29, 2020

'Trolls World Tour' Made More Money NOT Going Theatrical

Trolls World Tour made more for Universal in 3 weeks on-demand than Trolls did in 5 months in theaters.

Theaters have closed amid coronavirus concerns and we don't have a solid date for when they will open. In order to make money, some studios have turned to streaming in order to make money. We saw it happen with The Hunt and The Invisible Man, and now Trolls World Tour is the most recent to hit streaming. 

But it's also the most successful. 

As of right now, Trolls World Tour has topped $100 million in streaming revenue in only 3 weeks. While the original Trolls made $153.7 million, it went theatrical, so it lost a ton to prints, ads, and the split with theaters. 

Even though it was in theaters for 5 months, its profit margin was small. 

World Tour has only been out for 3 weeks and has already surpassed the profits on Trolls.

There's a lot to examine with that accomplishment. This is a family movie released at a time where kids are all stuck at home. Parents will do anything to keep them occupied, and a successful sequel fits the bill. 

Universal released Trolls World Tour as a digital rental on April 10 for $19.99. That's so much cheaper than taking a family of four to the theater. 

The breakdown is simple. Theaters typically take about 50% of box office sales, depending on the deal that was struck with the studio. So even though Trolls brought in more cash, it only made around $77 million for Universal.

In comparison, Universal retained about 80% of the digital rental or purchase fee for Trolls World Tour.

And that money is still coming in day by day. 

It is unclear how Universal’s decision to release more movies on demand will affect their relationship with theaters.

We know that this morning, AMC refused to show any more Universal movies when cinemas reopen. But that seems like a "cut your nose to spite your face" scenario. Especially with Universal controlling the Fast franchise, which means billions of dollars to theater owners. 

While AMC and Universal have their standoff, other studios are shrugging off this grudge.

Warner Bros.Scoob goes VOD on May 15 for a $19.99 rental fee or $24.99 to own. And Sony’s Seth Rogen romp, An American Pickle, will now go to HBO Max.

And Disney will bring Artemis Fowl straight to Disney+ instead of waiting for theaters. 

These are seismic shifts and calculated risks being taken to change Hollywood forever. 

Theaters are not happy, but studios are definitely not ditching them completely. Release dates have been shifted for movies like No Time to Die, Mulan, Black Widow, and others to capitalize on ticket sales.

We're at a very unsure time. And it'll be interesting to see what happens.      

Your Comment

2 Comments

Streaming is by far more scalable than screening in theaters. A part of the immersive experience gets lost, but the investment risk to recouperate production costs is lower.
I hope this will not be the death of cinemas, but Universal got a taste of it now.

April 30, 2020 at 5:13AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
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This was a future no matter what the state of the world was, just got sped up. There are alot of projects that can work well streamed instead of theatrical. Netflix has the luxury of doing either and being "successful" but other platforms will find their footing in this with their flavor, "Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift" if released in this climate would be a great streamer in that universe and keep the franchise making money while keeping it current. Spinoffs are going to be huge coming into 2021 trying to make back losses on things that always reliably pay out. Streaming is a great vein to inject that into.

April 30, 2020 at 7:32AM, Edited April 30, 7:32AM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
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