In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, John Fithian, the boss of the National Association of Theater Owners, has named and shamed Universal Pictures for their decision to release Trolls World Tour on Digital platforms. That movie took No Time to Die's release date back when COVID-19 seemed like no big deal, but things quickly changed in the days that followed.
As a result, the studio said the animated sequel would receive a same day release in theaters and on Digital platforms. Shortly after that, however, theaters were forced to close down.
Regardless, Fithian isn't happy and has accused Universal of "lying to consumers" about how the film is being released. "[All] of the movies with originally planned release dates in April and May, with the one exception of Trolls, will be released later theatrically, with full theatrical windows. All those other studios demonstrated their belief that the theatrical model is still essential to their business, they just had to delay release dates because of the virus."
"Only Universal, and only on Trolls, did one studio skip the theatrical model and go straight to the home," he added. "Universal continues to advertise to consumers that Trolls will be released simultaneously to theaters and the home on April 10. And they are lying to consumers."
"Universal knows that theaters will still be closed on April 10, so unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on Trolls didn’t make that decision." Fithian then somewhat ominously added, "Exhibitors will not forget this."
With a star-studded cast which includes Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Kelly Clarkson, and Kenan Thompson, Trolls World Tour is certainly a movie which would have brought families into theaters. What exhibitors will do to get back at Universal remains to be seen, but DIgital releases like these could become the norm over the coming months.
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