First, Universal Studios ticked off AMC. Now, Justin Timberlake is mad, too.
Following the straight-to-PVOD success of NBCUniversal’s Trolls World Tour (PVOD = Premium Video On Demand), making $100 million in its first three weeks of at-home play, the studio announced that they would start to release more first-run movies to the PVOD platform, bypassing theaters entirely — even after theaters reopen.
Since PVOD is the most direct competition for movie theaters (and theaters are direct industry partners with all studios, including Universal), this didn’t sit well with AMC Theatres. They have since banned all Universal films from their theaters moving forward unless the studio cancels its proposed PVOD expansion. AMC is the largest chain in North America, and other theaters have followed in solidarity. (You can read about it here.)
Well, those weren’t the only relationships that NBCU bungled in this whole embarrassing mess.
Top voice talent for Trolls World Tour, starting with Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, have also been stiffed. The two leads stars had backend theatrical box office revenues as part of their overall compensation deals. Now that NBCU has ditched theatrical completely for the sequel, Timberlake and Kendrick no longer have that backend to look forward to. Why? Because the release platform cited in their contracts (theaters) was different than the platform that the movie was eventually released on (PVOD).
Furthermore, given the nature of the film’s direct at-home release, it’s likely that eventual home video sales and rentals will be lower than they otherwise would have been, marking another knock against the stars’ overall potential compensation.
On top of all that, neither Timberlake or Kendrick were consulted or even notified by NBCU about the decision to switch from theatrical to PVOD.
Now, after Trolls World Tour has pulled in over $100 million and counting, reps for Timberlake and Kendrick are having to fight for what their clients were rightly expecting to earn.
As Kim Masters put it in her coverage for The Hollywood Reporter:
- This is not the sort of surprise such people (i.e. A-list stars) usually like, and it’s a sensitive matter because compensation for big stars in animated films is largely tied to box office bonuses. The stars’ reps are now asking for them to be paid, no doubt to the tune of seven figures.
Burn bridges much, NBCU? What a cluster.