Trolls Guide Way To New Normal

I remember when laptops first started getting good enough to be a viable alternative to the desktop.

I thought the idea was ridiculous. Why would I want to use the computer on the couch? Isn’t it so much nicer sitting at my desk?

Obviously, it was my thinking that was ridiculous, not laptops. Like you, today I cannot imagine having to be tethered to a particular spot in the house.

I was attached to the way I did things. But once I got used to a new way, I realized how much better it was than the old way. And I certainly wouldn’t go back.

During the pandemic, we’re going to try a lot of new things -- a lot of things we thought were ridiculous and worse than the way we were previously doing things. And, for a number of them, we’re going to realize that the new way is actually better.

Remember when “straight to DVD” was the biggest insult you could give a movie? Pre-corona, I cannot imagine a studio executive saying, “You know what? This release is going to be awesome. Let’s go straight to home streaming.”



But what do we do if we can’t go to the theaters? We’re going to try something new. And that’s exactly what happened with the” Trolls” sequel, “Trolls World Tour,” which untethered itself from the box office and moved to… the couch.

(Is it significant that all roads lead to the couch? Not sure. Moving on.)

The Morning Brewreports “Trolls World Tour” made around $95 million in fees from almost 5 million digital rentals in just three weeks, more than the original made in five months in theaters.

The report further notes, “Universal gets to keep about 80% of digital rental and purchase fees, compared to 50% of box office sales.”

“The pandemic and theater closures gave studio execs the opportunity to try something they’d been eyeing for a while – ‘PVOD,’ or premium video on demand. ‘Trolls World Tour' dropped on April 10 on platforms like Apple TV, Xfinity, and Amazon Prime. It was so successful, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told the WSJ that after the pandemic, the studio would release movies both in-theater and via PVOD.” (Emphasis mine.)

Understandably, this move is not popular with the theaters. So now there’s a battle. AMC Theatres, the biggest chain in the world, is threatening to stop playing any of Universal's films. Universal is reiterating how much they love theaters.

But surely the writing’s on the wall that change is going to come. With PVOD, you pay less. You watch with your whole family. You eat what you want. You connect with thousands of people on social media in real time -- in a way that’s likely more powerful than the everyone-be-quiet “shared experience” at the cinema.

Are theaters dead? Probably not. Is the industry going to transform? Definitely.

I can understand why theaters are trying to hang on to the status quo. But they need to be looking forward, not backward. The world is shifting to the couch. If you want to compete with the couch, you need to reimagine your value proposition.

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