Universal Pictures recently received some good news and some bad news. The good news: Trolls World Tour, the first blockbuster released to PVOD amidst the coronavirus pandemic shutdown, was a monster success. The bad news: That success has drawn the ire of two of the nation’s top movie theater chains, who have declared that, once theaters re-open, they won’t be running any Universal pictures.
The AMC news broke Tuesday, not long after Universal publicly claimed that the sequel to Trolls, which was made available as 48-hour rental for a cool $19.99, raked in $100 million in its first three weeks, prompting CEO Jeff Shell to say he’d open new movies in theaters and on PVOD concurrently. If you thought people could simply head to the nearest Regal, then sorry: As per Deadline, Cineworld, which owns Regal Entertainment, joined its competitor in the Universal ban.
Mind you, that doesn’t necessarily mean AMC and Regal’s ban will apply to some of the bigger movies on Universal’s slate, including F9, the newest Fast and Furious number, Minions: The Rise of Gru, and Jurassic World: Dominion, all of whose release dates were shuffled to 2021 in the wake of the national shutdown. It only applies to, as Cineworld put it, “movies that fail to respect the windows.” In other words, if Universal decides to release Halloween Ends, due next year, in theaters and on PVOD, Regal won’t play them. It’s unclear how they’ll approach the aforementioned blockbuster titles.
Earlier Wednesday, Universal defended their decision to release the sequel on PVOD, saying that, “given the choice of not releasing Trolls: World Tour, which would not only have prevented consumers from experiencing the movie but also negatively impacted our partners and employees, the decision was clear.”