Good deal – AMC strikes historic deal with Universal to shrink theatrical window to 17 days

17 days. Wow. This is a better deal than anybody predicted would be cut by Universal.

Yes, the same Universal that was being threatened by AMC earlier this year for their decision to release Trolls World Tour to VOD (see: AMC Titanic May Just Have Struck Studio Iceberg – They Will No Longer Play ANY Universal Movies). Like I said all along, AMC was holding a pair of deuces during pandemic poker and Universal had dealt themselves a straight flush with the VOD success of Trolls.

17 days is the new theatrical window deal that AMC cut with Universal. From 90 to 17 and AMC will share in the VOD/PVOD revenue.

The deal includes at least three weekends of theatrical exclusivity for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases, at which time the studio will have the option to make its titles available across PVOD platforms. Universal said its traditional windows for electronic sell-through and regular VOD remain unchanged.

AMC Theatres, Universal Collapsing Theatrical Window to 17 Days in Unprecedented Pact | Hollywood Reporter

Readers will note I’ve been pushing for shortening the theatrical window for quite some time — since October of last year, well before we knew anything about a pandemic (see: It’s Time To Shrink Theatrical Window To 30 Days), so of course I like this deal.

17 days includes three weekends in the cinema which is more than enough for most movies — except big budget films — to be exclusive to theaters.

Will other studios cut similar deals? Indeed, I think they will. What do you think of this new 17 day window?

Trolls World Tour Biggest Digital Debut Ever, Setting Stage for More Kid-Friendly Titles Going Straight to VOD

Trolls World Tour ⭐️⭐️½

$50 million is the figure I saw several publications toting for Trolls World Tour, but nobody can confirm this figure. There is also the whole reality is that some people are renting it multiple times for their children because ever 48 hours you need to purchase it at $20 again to see it for another 48 hours.

Universal is pleased that all things are doing well in Trolls land on VOD.

Universal is reporting that Trolls: World Tour scored the biggest opening day and opening weekend for a digital title, with a figure 10x larger than Universal’s next-biggest traditional digital release (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom). It is top on every relevant digital platform, including Amazon, Comcast CMCSA, Apple AAPL, Vudu, Google/YouTube, DirectTV, Verizon Fios and FandangoNow.

‘Trolls: World Tour’ Breaks Records And Nabs Biggest Digital Debut Ever

I’ve written about this movie more than any other recently, and for good reason. If this makes it into triple digit millions not being released in the theaters, it could change the future of how new movies are released.

We may see a future — sooner than many think — where we can watch movies at home on VOD for a premium price ($19.99, lower or higher depending on title) and also watch in the theater. These are called day and date releases in industry speak.

A metric I’ve compared viewer interest and sales in the past is the number of Rotten Tomatoes audience reviews. This is more fun than scientific and dubiously accurate, but check this out.

Let’s use $50 million. According to Box Office Mojo, the Adam Sandler thriller film Uncut Gems made $50 million worldwide.

Over 12,000 audience reviews, 92% fresh by the critics and 52% rotten by the audience.

Now, let’s take a look at where Trolls World Tour sits. Given, a lot more people probably visit Rotten Tomatoes when theaters are open and we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, but the audience review numbers are dramatically different.

As of 4/16/2020 not many audience reviews for Trolls World Tour

Comparatively, let’s use Blake Lively’s movie The Rhythm Section, which bombed at the theater for a 3,000+ screenings.

So, what does this mean? Not sure, but clearly the number of people who leave audience reviews on VOD titles on Rotten Tomatoes is way down. I wish we could have had a simultaneous release in theaters, but if we hadn’t had the pandemic, Trolls World Tour never would have been a day and date release

The only thing that seems fairly certain is that more kids titles with sub $100 million budgets might be good to release day and date and/or if we’re still in the pandemic, then directly to VOD.

Universal Supporting VOD During Pandemic More Than Any Other Studio

Don’t know about you, but I’m really, really, really missing movie theaters. The sooner we get them back, the better.

That said, I like the whole theater at home VOD surge. Thank you, studios, for giving us titles we should be seeing in the theaters at home. Thank you for realizing the theatrical window right now is irrelevant and pointless. Thank you for giving us entertainment to take our minds off the elephant in the room.

I want to publicly thank Universal for embracing VOD (see Universal will break theatrical window with Trolls World Tour available for same day streaming) more than any other studio in these unprecedented times.

Universal leads the pack in establishing the new normal for premium on demand (PVOD). It made “The Hunt,” “The Invisible Man,” and Focus Features’ “Emma” — all cut off at the knees when theaters closed around the country — available for rental March 20 ($19.99 for 48 hours) on multiple platforms. Other studios followed suit … and now Focus will put Eliza Hittman’s Sundance and Berlin prize-winner “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” one of the best-reviewed movies of the year, on demand April 3.

Focus Sends ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ to Premium On Demand | IndieWire

Say whatever you want about the Universal movies being good, bad or indifferent movies, but the mere fact they are promoting and pushing their movies on VOD is a great thing.

I will remember Universal’s support for moviegoers forced to only enjoy movies at home right now. The movie theater association (NATO as they are known) throwing shade at Universal is stupid and ill-placed. They should be embracing the movie watching experience wherever and whenever right now, so when theaters reopen people will not feel like the movie watching experience itself wasn’t the most important thing, not where we watch movies.

Moviegoers are supporting VOD of course. It’s the only viable place to watch newer movies right now, especially with stay at home shelter in place orders. Many people cannot go outside except for work (if working for an essential/critical business), emergencies and to shop for groceries.

At this point, nearly all 2020 wide-release films — as well as key specialized titles — are either available for home viewing, or soon will be. And the initial impact is dramatic. Based on the charts at iTunes and Amazon, which are updated daily, premium sales (largely priced at $19.99) are flying high.

Farewell, Box Office: This Was the Week That Premium VOD Charts Took Flight – Indiewire

Alas, we’ve gone backwards in China as theaters were closed again that were reopened. Athought reports seem to suggest that they will reopen again soon. I continue to target May 1 as a date when everything starts returning to normal, but there is another date at least in our state that I’m keeping my eyes on.

April 9. I’m looking at buying a new car and the dealership that is closed tells me that is when they are planning on reopening their showroom. Tribal casinos nearby are also suggesting the second week in April they might be reopening. I don’t know if either of these dates are too soon or not, but want to end this post optimistically.

The Invisible Woman (1941) being remade by Elizabeth Banks

On the heels of the success of The Invisible Man⭐️⭐️⭐️½, it’s worth noting another Universal monsters picture that is in the pipeline.

Elizabeth Banks and her company have pitched a reboot/remake of The Invisible Woman (1941).

If you haven’t seen the original film, look, YouTube has the original trailer.

The Invisible Woman (1941) trailer

You can stream or download and watch Universal Studios Monsters 1941 The Invisible Woman : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive via The Internet Archive. Movies posted on that site are supposed to be in the public domain.

I did a bit of checking to try and determine if this movie, in fact, is in the public domain and quickly got a headache.

If it’s still copyrighted, I’ll remove the link above, because I don’t want to link to any copyright infringing movie download sites. If anybody knows the disposition of this movie, please advise in the comments so I can be a responsible netizen.

As for Elizabeth Banks’ reboot/remake? I hope she does better with this Universal property than she did with Charlie’s Angels ⭐️½ (2019). That could have had potential, if Banks had stayed truer to the original formula, but she didn’t. The Invisible Man turned things around and changed the protagonist and it worked, but not sure Banks will be able to do that with The Invisible Woman and share similar success. It would be interesting to see it about an abused man in a relationship with the woman … but no, I’m guessing that would never happen.

It’s First Look Friday and there will be a couple of posts later today featuring movies we haven’t profiled here yet. It’s snowing here today in Washington state. Kind of thought we were past snow and heading into spring.

Remake of The Thing to be based upon new material from original author

Here we go … again. Another remake upon a remake. It’s horror, so another familiar face, Blumhouse, is involved.

Sacrilege! That was my first reaction to the news of trying to soft reboot and retell …

The Thing (1982) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ 

John Carpenter’s horror masterpiece, which is based on The Thing from Another World (1951), the black and white adaptation that has its own 50s eerieness … both are adaptations from a novella by John W. Campbell Jr.

Most recently they tried with a prequel to The Thing 2011 and that version flopped (I haven’t seen it yet). I’m not a fan of prequels in general. We know what’s happening, so it takes a lot of wind from the sails of the story. Alas, this is what they do in Hollywood, they would rather try to cash in on known properties versus taking chances on adapting or telling new stories.

Then I learned there was literally more to the original story. A recently unearthed novel-length version of the classic novella Who Goes There? by John Campea, Jr. called Frozen Hell. Hmm.

Back in 2018, John Betancourt announced the discovery of a novel-length version of the classic novella, and he took to Kickstarter to fund the release of the novel, titled Frozen Hell.

Universal and Blumhouse Developing New Version of ‘The Thing’ That Will Adapt Long Lost Original Novel! – Bloody Disgusting

Betancourt is working on a sequel. I was intrigued by who found the original draft by Campbell? Wikipedia had the answer:

In 2018, it was found that Who Goes There? was actually a shortened version of a larger novel previously written by Campbell. The expanded manuscript (including an entirely different opening), titled Frozen Hell, was found in a box of manuscripts sent by Campbell to Harvard University. The discovery was made by author and biographer Alec Nevala-Lee, during his research on a biography of Campbell and other authors

Wikipedia: Who Goes There?

The question is if Campbell himself who became an editor never saw fit to release the expanded version, is it worthwhile? Just because a longer version exists, doesn’t mean the story ever needed to be longer. Maybe the editing to the classic novella was best as is.

The Thing (1982) by John Carpenter

This is what new movies based on older properties seem to chase. Usually unwisely, because the vast majority of remakes despite some making money, are pale imitations to earlier, better movies.

This all leaves me with more questions than answers, but there is some curiosity.

The Thing From Another World (1951) boasts an “electrifying” monster

Will the new screenplay follow Frozen Hell? The early reports are that this is the plan. It could deviate further, which is my suspicion, thus using Campbell’s original manuscript as a marketing tactic instead of a legitimate need to revisit and use the story.