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Did “Trolls World Tour” Just Change The Way We’re Going To Be Watching New Release Movies?

This weekend may end up being an incredibly important one in the history of cinema. Why, you ask? Well, Trolls World Tour opted to skip a theatrical release entirely (as opposed to delaying and coming out later in the summer or the fall, once the Coronavirus pandemic subsided), debuting as a rental in homes. For years, theaters have fought the day and date model, suggesting it could be an end to the cinematic experience. That’s led to some of their battles with Netflix, etc, as streaming services make inroads into the film world. Today, we can look a bit into whether this movie is truly the canary in the coal mine…

For those unaware, the film is a sequel to the surprise hit (and Academy Award nominee) Trolls. Here is the storyline, according to IMDb: “Poppy and Branch discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder. A member of hard-rock royalty, Queen Barb, aided by her father King Thrash, wants to destroy all other kinds of music to let rock reign supreme. With the fate of the world at stake, Poppy and Branch, along with their friends, set out to visit all the other lands to unify the Trolls in harmony against Barb, who’s looking to upstage them all.” Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return as the leads, with other members of the voice cast including Mary J. Blige, Rachel Bloom, Kelly Clarkson, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Jamie Dornan, Ron Funches, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Ozzy Osbourne, Sam Rockwell, Keenan Thompson, and more. Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith share directorial duties, while the script is by Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Maya Forbes, Elizabeth Tippet, and Wallace Wolodarsky. Theodore Shapiro composed the score.

Now, on the one hand, you can point to this as a warning sign for the traditional theatrical distribution model. If a studio can skip having to share profits with a theater company, why would Universal need to deal with AMC, for example? I don’t think this is going to be the case, as there will always be a hunger, at least on some level, for the theatrical experience, but there’s a possibility that this could be a warning sign. Especially if a family of four can rent the movie at a fraction of the price, save on snacks, and elements like that, this could be very tempting…

On the other hand, this can be seen as a one-off, aimed at cashing in on families desperate to amuse and distract their children. If this were a Marvel Cinematic Universe offering, or a true tentpole, then there might be cause for theater owners to fear more. However, this does seem more like an experiment at a time where the options are limited. Perhaps we’ll see more family friendly offerings take this route? Disney+ is doing the same thing on their platform with Artemis Fowl, and it’s important to note that they’re doing it with that long delayed flick, as opposed to Black Widow or Eternals. That makes a huge difference.

The truth remains to be seen. For now, Trolls World Tour just exists as an option for those desperate for big new entertainment. I suspect it’ll do very well, rental wise, potentially making similar to what it would have made in theaters. The film will almost certainly be forgotten about come awards season, unless it turns into a Best Animated Feature or Best Original Song contender at the Oscars. So, it’s just a matter of wondering if it’ll impact how we see new releases when this is all over. Right now, we just have to wait…

Trolls World Tour is available to rent right now!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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