Game-Changer: ‘Trolls World Tour’ Digital Success Pits Universal Against Movie Theaters

“Trolls” may signal the start of big changes to the theatrical model, but AMC’s blacklist of Universal shows that movie theaters won’t take it lying down

Universal’s success in releasing “Trolls World Tour” direct to streaming — taking in $95 million in its first 19 days online — led the studio to declare its intention to release more movies that way in the future, and led AMC Theatres, the world’s largest movie theater chain, to sever its relationship with the studio. The tension over theatrical windows has now erupted into a full-blown war.

The rapid escalation began with comments by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, saying that the success of the digital-only release of the “Trolls” sequel “demonstrated the viability of PVOD” and that “as soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

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Jeremy Fuster

Jeremy Fuster

Box Office Reporter • jeremy.fuster@thewrap.com