Universal Pictures has set a release date for Trolls 3, the third film in the Trolls animated film franchise from DreamWorks Animation. For being a kid-friendly movie series, Trolls has become rather controversial in Hollywood. Right as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to close businesses across the country, Universal decided to make the franchise's second film, Trolls World Tour, available simultaneously in theaters as well as digital home release. While Universe claimed the release strategy was a success, it upset cinema chains that were forced to close during the pandemic. With the controversy in the rearview mirror, Trolls 3 marches on with a new premiere date.
According to Variety, November 17, 2023 is the date Trolls 3 will make its way into theaters. The loveable Trolls are based on the Good Luck Trolls dolls created by Thomas Dam. The box office breakdown of the films is as follows: Trolls made $347 million at the domestic box office, which is what prompted a sequel; and Trolls World Tour grossed $47 million internationally and $100 million domestically on various streaming platforms in its opening weekend.
Trolls World Tour held the top spot on VOD platforms when it first opened, with industry sources claiming it made between $40-$50 million. Comcast CFO Mike Cavanaugh then stated Universal VOD releases would be made on a "title by title" basis. Cavanaugh called NBCUniversal's decision "a consumer-friendly approach. We're certainly getting good feedback from folks who have watched the movie and it continues to do well but it is obviously a function of the world we have where theatres are closed." He also added the company "would probably have lost money if we had not had that opportunity."
AMC and Cinemark responded to Universal's "day-and-date" strategy by vowing not to show Universal films in their theaters. AMC Theatres CEO's letter about Universal's blackout policy said it "affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes. Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response."
A resolution to the dispute between Universal and AMC/Cinemark was ultimately agreed upon, with Universal placing movies on digital after 17 days unless it grosses $50 million during its opening weekend. Those movies will instead stay in theaters for 31 days, which is shorter than the 45 days for other studios.
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