Yesterday, Universal CEO Jeff Shell revealed that the PVOD release, which the studio pivoted to after cinemas were shuttered by coronavirus, had generated close to $100M in revenues. Shell added that he expected to release movies “on both formats [theatrical and PVOD]” in the future.
A backlash from exhibs saw theater chain AMC, which operates European outfit Odeon, say it won’t carry Universal titles going forward.
Now, UNIC has added another voice to the melee, stating it believes the current exceptional circumstances were a significant factor in the success of Trolls, and that there should not be a rush from distributors to veer away from traditional models.
“The performance of Trolls Word Tour should be viewed – and only viewed – in the context of the exceptional circumstances surrounding its release and the unprecedented times we are living through. When a third of the global population is currently on some form of a coronavirus lockdown and only 4% of cinema screens around the world are open, it is hardly surprising that many have turned to VOD and similar other services,” the UNIC statement read.
“The results for this title also undoubtedly owe a great deal to its marketing as – what was then planned to be – a theatrical release. The sequel was also one of the very few children’s films to hit the market at this time, making it – even at a premium price – appealing to many families confined indoors.
“This combination of unusual circumstances should not be used as a reference to re-design a longstanding and proven release business model, which remains crucial in ensuring the ongoing availability of films to the benefit of audiences. Those who will depend on the success of the film industry should refrain from hastily altering key practices for short-term gains and should instead commit to create the best conditions for the whole sector to recover as soon as possible.
“Everyone has had to make adjustments in their daily lives and this includes film fans. This should, however, not be seen as a sign of changing preferences from an audience standpoint – it is after all worth recalling that 2019 was a record-breaking year for cinemas worldwide.”
UNIC is currently coordinating with various national bodies in Europe to plan for the reducing of lockdowns, which is happening at different paces around the continent.
Another Universal release, the Judd Apatow comedy The King Of Staten Island, is also set to skip theaters and head straight to VOD on June 12. The movie was primed to bow at SXSW before the Texas fest was cancelled.