After going straight to premium Video on Demand on Friday, Universal’s “Trolls World Tour” is a record-breaking home-viewing success. The animated sequel, the first and most significant of four planned theatrical releases to seek non-theater platforms during a global theater shutdown, scored records at FandangoNOW, which just reported its initial results.
The film, available for 48-hour rental (but not digital download) for a $19.99 premium price, was the best seller on Fandango’s full week Monday to Sunday chart of feature film offerings, despite only being available for three days. It beat by a wide margin the full-week #2 and 3 ranked “Bad Boys for Life” and “Sonic the Hedgehog,” 2020’s top domestic theatrical grossers.
Apart from its weekend dominance, “Trolls” also set several records of note. These include:
- Most pre-ordered title ever
- Best-selling opening day
- Best-selling film over its first three days of digital release
The $90-million-plus DreamWorks Animation film is a sequel to the 2016 hit that grossed over $150 million domestic and $350-million worldwide. These numbers (from one of multiple platforms offering the film to home viewers) do not indicate the money spent by renters. The economics of this world are less transparent than the theatrical box office. But generally, a studio retains more than two-thirds of all revenues.
Let’s do the numbers. If 4 million households rented the film, that would total $80 million, with around $55 million going to Universal. (This leaves out the rest of the world, with results even harder to come by.) And of course this kind of release, while it saves some marketing costs, precludes much of the post-theatrical revenues that a studio normally counts on. And we have no idea if 4 million is an accurate figure because of how these results are reported.
That said, “Trolls” is also the #1 film at Amazon Prime, whose chart reports the number of rentals, irrespective of their cost. That means that a higher-price title at #1 more stands out as a success. This data is impressive, but comes at a unique time for a pre-branded major theater-intended release aimed at a captive audience of families stuck at home.
It’s not an ideal gauge of how other top titles might do. But these records show that consumers are jumping onto buying a movie on the opening weekend, not unlike a theatrical release.
Still, the better indicator of success will be how long the film sustains this position, as well as its showing on other platforms. We are at the very early stages of this new (possibly temporary) world. The clearest sign that it is a success though will be if Universal and other studios go this route for other top titles, which at this point has not yet happened.