Five films skipping the theater and coming straight to VOD

A still from the unexpectedly controversial 'Trolls World Tour.' (Photo via YouTube)

Of all the movies that could have taken on the moniker of “controversial industry-threatening cinema” in 2020, my first guess would not have been Trolls World Tour.

And yet, here we are. Trolls World Tour made nearly $100 million in its first three weeks, almost exclusively through video on-demand services such as iTunes and Amazon Prime. And Universal — pleasantly surprised at its own good fortune — has announced plans to roll out future movies in a similar fashion.

Enter AMC Theatres, who have taken Universal’s comments as a proverbial bitch slap and reacted accordingly: by saying they will no longer distribute any of the studio’s films. That means if you want to see the latest installments of the Fast & Furious or James Bond franchises, you might have to go to a Regal Cinemas theater instead. 

As we all watch giant corporations hash out their beef, let’s look at some of the movies that are going to practice social distancing instead of opening in theaters:

Artemis Fowl

Originally slated for late May, Disney has decided to forgo a theatrical release of this YA adaptation in favor of a June 12 premiere on Disney+. Based on the novel by Eoin Colfer, this production has been kicking around for well over a decade before Shakespeare superfan (and Harry Potter MVP) Kenneth Branagh took control. Probably wishing to avoid any more delays, the Mouse House is using Artemis Fowl as its guinea pig to see if they’ll follow Universal’s video on-demand model to similar heights. The series’ relevancy might be in the past, but with heavy hitters such as Judi Dench and Colin Farrell in its cast, it’ll be interesting to see if the public will log on to catch it.

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The King of Staten Island

The latest from director Judd Apatow follows a slacker in his mid-20s trying to kick-start his life. Loosely based on the life of its star, Pete Davidson, this is another film premiering VOD June 12 due to a scrapped theatrical release. It’s likely that your enjoyment of the film will correlate to how much Davidson you can take in one sitting, but The King of Staten Island is Apatow’s first non-documentary feature in the director’s chair since 2015’s Trainwreck.

Scoob!

The newest reimagining of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon finds everyone’s favorite gang of mystery solvers thwarting the evil deeds of Wacky Racers baddie Dick Dastardly and his canine companion Muttley. The trailers so far have been less than inspiring, and the fact the marketing team is leaning on TikTok to promote the film is genius, ridiculous or maybe both. Either way, Scoob! will be available VOD May 15, and if it does well, it might start an extended universe of Hanna-Barbera films — which will likely fall short of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but be more successful than Universal’s Dark Universe (RIP to Johnny Depp’s turn as The Invisible Man). 

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Capone

Director Josh Trank’s career is the epitome of “too much too soon.” After his directorial debut Chronicle exceeded expectations, Trank was christened Hollywood’s newest auteur and was handed the reigns of a future Star Wars film. Then Fant4stic happened. Trank has been persona non grata in the industry for a few years, but Capone looks to be a solid return for the director as he traces the infamous Chicago gangster’s final years. Its May 12 release date is fast approaching, so we’ll be able to tell for ourselves soon whether Trank still has the goods or not.

The Lovebirds

Reuniting The Big Sick star Kumail Nanjiani and director Michael Showalter, The Lovebirds looks to be in the same vein as wacky, chaotic romantic comedies such as Date Night and Sex Tape. Despite having written the book on hijink-filled alternative comedy as a cast member of ’90s sketch shows The State and Wet Hot American Summer, Showalter has excelled recently as a director of smaller, quieter stories such as Hello, My Name is Doris. How he’ll handle the breakneck pace that The Lovebirds has established in its trailers is anyone’s guess, but at least he’ll have Nanjiani and Insecure star Issa Rae to back him up.

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