Comcast’s CFO says that VOD releases will be on a “title by title” basis after the success of Trolls World Tour. During the J.P. Morgan virtual media, tech and communications conference today, Mike Cavanaugh also mentioned that there was “obviously a lot of industry stuff to work through to bring that to fruition.” A reporter on the call asked about NBCUniversal’s decision to release the Trolls film directly to video-on-demand. Theater chains notoriously disapproved of the decision at the time as their business depends on these types of new releases. However, both sides believe that Trolls will not be the first time or the last time that a studio decides to go this route as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on.
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 would also mention that the company “would probably have lost money if we had not had that opportunity.”
However, the executive also mentioned that with that “nice success,” there are still a lot of question marks with bigger films. “It’s difficult to take a big franchise blockbuster kind of movie and release it into a world where theaters aren’t open,” he admitted. “It’s probably a two-year story until we get back to releasing big movies.”
AMC did not mince words when discussing Universal’s decision and its blackout policy. Which sets out to completely eliminate showings of Universal films at their theater chain. That means the likes of Fast & Furious 9 and No Time to Die won't get the nod. This policy "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."
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