trolls world tour bonuses

You thought Trolls World Tour was done making headlines? Think again, chumps. The animated sequel, which may end up as one of the most significant films in Hollywood history, is still generating some controversy – not from theater chains, this time, but from its own stars.

A new report says that Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, and the sequel’s other “top voice stars” were not told ahead of time that the movie would be skipping theaters and premiering straight on VOD, and now their representatives are trying to secure the actors the bonuses they would have received had the movie opened theatrically.

Trolls World Tour was the first major studio movie to skip theaters entirely and debut on VOD, angering theater owners in the process and eventually leading to a war with AMC Theatres and other chains. Now it’s taking fire from within its own ranks.

The Hollywood Reporter has a big piece about the movie and whether or not it will end up making money in the long run – the answer to that question remains unclear – but amid those details is the fact that reps for Timberlake, Kendrick, and more are seeking the potentially seven-figure bonuses they would have gotten had the movie opened theatrically as planned and crossed $350 million at the global box office. Universal has bragged about Trolls World Tour having the biggest weekend opening ever for a digital release, and its VOD money has been impressive at $20 per rental, but as the film tries to cross the line into profitability, it seems like it will need to pay its actors some kind of bonus even though this was far from a conventional scenario.

The optics aren’t exactly great on this – millions of people are out of work due to the pandemic, so reading about actors getting million dollar bonuses feels a bit…gross. But on the other hand, these performers sign contracts that often ensure much bigger paydays once their movies cross a certain threshold at the box office. It’s hard to blame their agents for simply doing their jobs and trying to make sure their clients get what they’re owed. And if the studio tries to screw them out of that bonus money, it could establish a bad precedent for other studios to screw over other people in the industry using the pandemic as a cover. (That’s probably already happening, but this could legitimize that behavior in a troubling way.) Maybe the actors could have these bonuses sent to a COVID-related charity organization if they’re feeling generous?

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