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Is There a New Normal in Hollywood?

By Matt Chieco

Numerous movie theaters have shuttered due to the impact of the coronavirus. This unprecedented occurrence has led to a complete halt in box office revenue for the first time in 26 years, prompting Hollywood to reevaluate the traditional movie-watching experience.

While many films have been postponed to late 2020 or even 2021, 'Trolls World Tour' has boldly maintained its April 10th release date. The film has chosen to debut primarily through digital platforms and a select number of operational drive-in theaters across the country, despite facing resistance from theater owners. Could this potentially signify the dawn of a new era?

'Trolls World Tour,' which boasts a substantial budget of nearly $100 million from Universal/DreamWorks (excluding marketing expenses), takes a unique stance. Recent instances where animated sequels, such as 'The Lego Movie: The Second Part,' 'The Secret Life Of Pets 2,' and 'The Angry Birds Movie 2,' didn't match their predecessors' performance might have influenced the studio's strategic move. The aim could be to tap into the current climate, capturing families seeking fresh and engaging movies while confined at home.

This trend isn't exclusive to 'Trolls World Tour.' Other studios are also shifting away from traditional theater releases in favor of digital platforms. Paramount, for instance, brokered a deal to sell 'The Lovebirds' to Netflix, while STX allowed 'My Spy' to find its home with Amazon Studios. Additionally, Disney chose to release 'Artemis Fowl' directly on Disney+, bypassing the theatrical route.

Bob Iger even suggested that more of Disney's planned theatrical releases could potentially transition to Disney+ if theater closures persist, further emphasizing this narrative.

Considering the substantial budget of 'Trolls World Tour,' relying solely on digital rentals might present challenges in terms of profitability. Nonetheless, the evolving landscape presents an opportunity for movies that might struggle to find a strong foothold in theaters. This dynamic approach to movie watching could provide them with a chance to shine.

'Trolls World Tour' is now available for a 48-hour rental window on digital platforms and is also being showcased in select theaters.

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