Drive-ins continued to hang on stateside as we weathered our fourth weekend of a coast-to-coast — let’s be honest, global — theatrical shutdown.
About 25 drive-ins booked DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, and among the grosses we could get our hands on (as Universal isn’t reporting numbers), the weekend looked to be north of $60K led by such drive-ins as the Sacramento 6 ($13,4K), the Glendale 9 in Arizona ($12K), the Mission Tiki in Montclair, CA ($5,700), the Galaxy in Ennis, TX ($2,600), the Auto in Greenwood, SC ($2,500), the Tascosa in Amarillo, TX, the Ocala in Florida ($2,300), and the Lake Worth, also in Sunshine State, ($2k) being among some of the notables.
As we previously reported, Universal saw an opening VOD day for Trolls World Tour that was 10x its previous champ, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which did $2M-$3M on its first VOD day. That translates into a first day of $20M-$30M, and industry sources estimate that it’s possible Trolls World Tour might have cleared as much as $40M (that’s a soft figure) over three days. The irony in that number is that’s what the sequel was expected to do in a healthy Easter weekend at the box office (sans COVID-19), according to rival-studio estimates. The first Trolls movie, released via 20th Century Fox, on November 4, 2016, made $46.5M over three days stateside. The expectation is that the first-week VOD revenue from Trolls World Tour will exceed the estimated $30M clocked by Avengers: Endgame.
Is this a film distribution experiment to fall in love with?
Let’s see when harder numbers are delivered by Universal — and when we have the liberty to go to the multiplex. Nothing beats getting out, and taking in the big screen, and with all good intentions, Universal originally planned Trolls World Tour that way in hindsight. It took Showtime four months to tell the press that the late-August 2017 PPV fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor made $600M at close to $100 per buy (Trolls World Tour went for $19.99 for a 48-hour rental). Uni’s cut of the weekend VOD gross is estimated by sources to be around 80% (versus a 50%-60% take with exhibition).
How much domestic box office have we lost? In regards to this past Easter weekend, distributors estimates ranged between $150M (if the marketplace was good with Trolls World Tour in play) and $195M (had MGM’s No Time to Die stayed put without Trolls World Tour on the marquee, again, assuming all things normal with an anticipated $88M-$100M opening).
W can’t compare this April to the past two years for the month — which earned over $1 billion each, per Comscore, driven by Avengers’ movies — the best comparison is April 2017, when The Fate of the Furious led all ticket sales for all titles to a near $816M. That’s about how much we stand to lose this month. Add in the remainder of March, which went unaccounted for, at an estimated $400M, and we’re looking at over a $1.2 billion loss at the domestic box office by the end of April.