Trolls World Tour goes straight to premium video on demand next month – and US cinema owners aren’t happy about it.

Universal has been the studio quickest off the mark in terms of taking its theatrical releases and making them available on premium video on demand services in these particularly vexing times. Already, it’s made The Hunt, Emma and The Invisible Man available early. But the announcement from the studio that’s leaving it in the firing line from cinema chains is Trolls World Tour.

Unlike every other movie that’s been announced for early release thus far – including Sony’s Bloodshot and Lionsgates’ Military WivesTrolls World Tour won’t have seen the inside of a cinema when it’s released on April 10th straight to on demand services. It’s the sole big blockbuster movie that’s taken this path, with pretty much every other big film delaying its release until cinemas reopen.

In the US, the head of NATO (not that one), the National Association Of Theatre Owners is a man called John Fithian. And he’s been damning about the decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

Acknowledging that the organisation understands why studios would send already-released movies to digital services early, Fithian says that “Trolls World Tour is a very different story. For all the movies that had been scheduled for release during April and May, every other distributor announced delays to later times. But they still intend to release those delayed movies theatrically”.

“Only Universal, and only on Trolls, did one studio skip the theatrical model and go straight to the home”, he said, arguing that the studio is “lying” when it says that the movie will be released simultaneously in cinemas and homes on April 10th. “Universal knows that theaters will still be closed on April 10”, he says, “so unlike every other distributor who must simply delay their releases in that time period, but still understand that theatrical release is essential to their business model, Universal on Trolls didn’t make that decision. Exhibitors will not forget this”.

The full interview, which is well worth a read, is available here. Quite what ramifications there will be for Universal, if any, remains to be seen. Trolls World Tour will land on April 10th that notwithstanding.

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