How ‘Trolls World Tour’ Tests the Future of Studio Movies With On-Demand Release

Jeremy Fuster

Thanks to the cornavirus pandemic, Universal this weekend is launching a nationwide test case of whether moviegoers will be willing to pay premium prices for studio films as video on demand home releases — and skip movie theaters altogether. The at-home release of DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour” may have been prompted by the nationwide closure of movie theaters, but the industry will be watching closely the results of this unprecedented release. What exactly constitutes success for “Trolls World Tour” isn’t even clear to Universal, as a home release of this kind has never been attempted by a major studio. The first “Trolls,” released in November 2016, had a $46.5 million opening weekend in theaters and went on to gross $153.7 million in North America and $346.8 million worldwide, on a budget of roughly $125 million. While there are no publicly available means of tracking VOD performance, it’s highly unlikely that “World Tour” could make that much in rental sales. Depending on where a family of four lives, they could pay as much as $64 for four tickets at a theater. Since Universal is making “World Tour” available starting Friday for a 48-hour rental at a suggested price of $20,...

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