“Trolls World Tour” will get its big-screen debut after all.
The straight-to-VOD film, which inadvertently became the computer-animated face of the exhibition sector’s coronavirus nightmare, is among a batch of library and short-lived theatrical releases set to grace U.K. cinemas when they reopen, Variety can confirm.
Also slated to head back to cinemas is Universal’s “Emma,” which was released Feb. 21 and placed on VOD around the time of lockdown in mid-March. The films are listed in a document drawn up by the Film Distributors’ Association, which includes around 450 titles set for movie theaters when they open after July 4.
Sending “Trolls” to cinemas — although it’s yet unclear which chains — after its much-ballyhooed VOD debut is something of an olive branch by the studio, which publicly feuded with the likes of AMC Theatres over the decision, with the cinema chain at one point threatening to ban Universal movies entirely. AMC CEO Adam Aron has since signalled in a recent earnings call that relations may be thawing with the studio, noting it is in “active dialogue” with Universal around striking a deal.
Other major releases that went the VOD route after limited theatrical runs pre-lockdown — and now slated to return to cinemas — include Sony’s “Bloodshot,” “Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island” and “Bad Boys for Life”; Disney’s “Onward” and “Call of the Wild”; Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog”; and Vertigo’s “The Assistant.”
The collection of films has been compiled from many of the country’s distribution companies via the Film Distributors’ Association, and forms part of a unified business recovery plan for the sector that is currently being undertaken by both the FDA and the UK Cinema Association via the cross-industry org Cinema First.
Films have been split into 25 categories for “ease of programming,” and include all-time classics, franchise favorites, indie gems, family films and event cinema among its groups, as well as genres such as comedy, documentary, musical, horror, romance and sci-fi.
In an interview with Variety earlier this week, Vue Cinemas boss Tim Richards hinted that studios had been extremely generous in supporting cinemas as they await the release of new films such as “Tenet” and “Mulan.” The former, Christopher Nolan-directed thriller was expected to launch on July 17 but was last week pushed back by two weeks, leaving exhibitors to sate audiences with library fare. Judging by the list of films, however, the studios have indeed stepped up to the plate with solid offerings across the board.
Andy Leyshon, chief executive of the FDA, said: “This amazing collection of content represents all that’s great about cinema and should enthral and delight film-lovers the length and breadth of the land. Cinemagoing holds such a vital role in society, able to entertain and educate in equal measure, and returning audiences will be able to once again experience the magic of film in its truest form.”
As revealed by Variety, one of the film offerings will be a 4K release of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,” which has never before been screened to a cinema audience, having only been released via Disney Plus and BluRay in late March. The film will be shown at Vue cinemas after they reopen.
The U.K. government has yet to give the final greenlight for a July 4 reopening, but sources tell Variety that it is widely expected. Regal Cinemas and Picturehouse owner Cineworld confirmed earlier this week that it will open its venues in both the U.K. and U.S. on July 10.
Highlights of the films returning to cinemas are below:
- “Blue Story” (Paramount)
- “Dunkirk,” “Inception,” “Batman,” “Batman Begins” (Warner Bros.)
- “Fast and the Furious” films (Universal)
- “Harry Potter” films (Warner Bros.)
- “The Hunger Games” films (Lionsgate)
- “Twilight” films (eOne)
- “The Matrix” films (Warner Bros.)
- “Mad Max” films (Warner Bros.)
- “1917,” “Jojo Rabbit” (Disney), “Little Women” (Sony) and “Parasite” (Curzon)
- “Calm with Horses” (Altitude) and “Misbehaviour” (Disney)