'Trolls World Tour' Has Biggest Opening Weekend For A Digital Release Ever, According To Universal

When NBCUniversal became the first major company to announce that some of its movies would be available online at the same time that they (would have) hit theaters, it marked an unprecedented break in long-established practices in Hollywood. As the industry paused to wait out the coronavirus, all eyes looked to April 10 and the opening of Trolls World Tour, the first significantly-budgeted studio movie to open directly on VOD instead of going to theaters as originally intended.

Now the film has opened, and it has performed incredibly well – according to Universal, the animated sequel has broken records and now stands as the biggest opening day and opening weekend release ever for a film released digitally.

Trolls World Tour Breaks Records

Universal (via The Wrap) announced that Trolls World Tour is the highest grossing VOD title ever in terms of revenue – and apparently this record doesn't just apply to Universal movies, but stands across any studio. This is such a big deal that the Trolls World Tour numbers were "approximately 10 times higher than that of Universal's next biggest opening day for a traditional digital release." The movie was available to rent for 30 days for $19.99, with a limited 48-hour viewing period.

It's impossible to put all this into the proper perspective without hard numbers, which the studio has not yet released. (They say specific statistics will be shared in the coming weeks.) But FandangoNow says Trolls World Tour performed incredibly well on its video on demand platform, earning records as the most preordered title ever, the best-selling film on opening day, and the best-selling film during its first three days of digital release. All of that resulted in the platform itself having its best weekend since it debuted in 2016. The film was also number one on Amazon, Comcast, Apple, Vudu, Google/YouTube, DirecTV

But theater owners are likely shaking in their boots right now, and for good reason. Their future of their entire business is up in the air, and watching a studio bypass them completely and release a major movie direct to streaming can't be a good feeling. "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," the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners said last month. "Exhibitors will not forget this."

As evidenced by other studios moving major releases like No Time to Die, Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984, and Top Gun: Maverick, the idea of releasing huge movies directly to streaming is not going to be a "one size fits all" solution. But with the Trolls sequel breaking records, it's clear that parents are desperate for new entertainment to distract their children during quarantine. When the coronavirus recedes, will those same parents be willing to pay four or five times the amount to take the kids out of the house to see movies again? Or are patterns being formed right now that will forever alter the way the exhibition industry works?

Trolls World Tour is available now. Check out our review here.