Is There a Future in Video on Demand Debuts? Trolls World Tour Breaks Records

One News Page Staff


by 👨‍💻 Graham Pierrepoint

Plenty of industries and businesses are changing massively in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to lockdown and quarantine measures setting in across the globe, some film studios and distributors are continuing to look closely at bringing new movie releases directly to people’s homes for the price of an average cinema ticket. It’s a tempting deal, particularly as it seems as though many of us are likely to be stationed at home for many more weeks and months to come.

But is this a model which is likely to develop well in the long run? Some people are, naturally, pretty sceptical. There is a danger than cinemas and movie studios will continue to take serious hits to revenue and interest for as long as the lockdown measures persist worldwide. Bringing new movie releases to home audiences early simply makes sense on one hand – as it means that they are going to be claiming revenue for the period that they had always intended. Some studios, meanwhile, are simply delaying their releases.

There’s a reason for this – the lockdown measures are unlikely to last forever, and the fact remains that there is likely to be much more revenue to gain from cinema releases. While some people may balk at the idea of paying £15 for a rental, this is a price you’d have to pay three or four times over if you’re taking the whole family to see a new release. Therefore, it’s immediately good value.

There’s also the fact that, on another hand, movies heading straight to VOD or video on demand is also likely to bring in a fantastic new stream of revenue. Think of all the people who are otherwise unlikely to see movies at cinemas even if they had the ability!

A shining example of this is Trolls World Tour, which ONP recently reviewed. As one of the first ‘new’ movie releases to pitch out worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was always going to blaze a trail. It was always going to set records for a pretty new phenomenon. However, it’s not the first movie to debut at home – it’s just the first in a line of releases to head home first during the pandemic.

Regardless, the success the movie has seen on the home front has been incredible. If reports from Universal are to be believed, it’s thought that Trolls World Tour has now set the record for the biggest digital release debut of any movie on record. That’s a pretty big accolade to throw out there. Sources also suggest that the movie has reportedly claimed around $40 million on its opening weekend across US homes alone. That’s extremely healthy for a movie which is debuting outside its normal ballpark.

The figures mooted for Trolls World Tour outstrip previous box office money generated by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which benefited from a wide cinema release ahead of time. In any case, the success of the movie at home might spell a genuine shift in how we watch movies for time to come.

There seem to be plenty more movies heading home in the near future, and with lockdown measures persisting, it’s likely that families and homebound viewers will still have a fair pick of rentals to choose from. But will this change the way that movies pitch out for good?

Once the COVID-19 pandemic finds a solution, it’s likely that the allure of the cinema will appeal to avid moviegoers once again. However, with Trolls World Tour having been such a roaring success thus far, it stands to reason that we’ll be seeing a big change in the way movies are delivered to us in future.

Could we be seeing dual options to see movies at home or in cinemas? Will this help to sustain the cinema industry? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, a number of big films are heading for the push-back option, rather than the early release model.

Disney, for example, is a studio which seems to be teetering a little in this respect. Their first big Marvel release of the year, Black Widow, would have been heading to cinemas in just a few weeks. However, thanks to the pandemic, this is no longer the case. Disney has chosen to push back both Black Widow and its Mulan remake, however, it has opted to launch Pixar’s Onward on VOD early, through Disney +, perhaps as a result of potential takings.

Other movies famously getting pushed back include A Quiet Place 2, No Time To Die and the Scooby-Doo reboot, SCOOB. However, with the recent opening success of Trolls World Tour, will we see one or more studios follow in Universal’s footsteps? Keep your eyes peeled for more new movie releases coming in the weeks to come, in the comfort of your own home.