Vue to continue showing Universal titles after Trolls: World Tour row
James R | On 05, May 2020
Vue Cinemas has pledged to continue showing Universal titles in its venues after a row surrounding the release of Trolls: World Tour.
It’s only been a few weeks since Universal dropped the animated sequel on digital platforms, with a Premium VOD price tag of £15.99 per rental. The move to go straight-to-VOD marked one step further into online distribution than Universal’s decision to release of a trio of films – The Invisible Man, Emma, The Hunt – to stream shortly after their theatrical runs were curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
After taking in an estimated $100 million in North America its the film’s first few weeks, Universal said last week that it “demonstrated the viability of PVOD” and that it expected to “release movies on both formats” when cinemas reopen.
Those remarks sparked backlash from AMC, which said that would “no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East”.
Cineworld joined the backlash, labelling Universal’s move “completely inappropriate” and “nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency”. It didn’t join Odeon’s blanket boycott of Universal movies, but reiterated that the company would not show films “fail to respect” the theatrical window.
Now, Vue has weighed in on the debate, but has instead said that it will continue to show Universal films.
CEO Tim Richards told The Times at the weekend that Universal had been a “great” partner and that Vue would still show the distributor’s films.
“We intend to help promote and market their movies so they can be shown on our screens,” he said, adding with regards to Trolls: World Tour’s release that Universal “had already spent very heavily on marketing the film and suddenly there were no screens to actually play it”.
Richards has since told the BBC that “what [Universal] did does not mean there is a new direction of travel. We are not seeing any change”.
His comments are something of a reality check for Odeon and Cineworld, adding: “Can you imagine watching the new Bond film on a 27-inc Mac?”
Richards also told the BBC that he hopes the chain could be back in business for the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on 17th July.
“We are trying to work with the government to demonstrate we are not like sporting fixtures and pop concerts,” he said. “We can control how many people come into our cinemas at any one time – we have the ability to control the exit and entrance.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a statement this Sunday about the possibility of easing the current lockdown restrictions in the near future.