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WIRE Buzz: Trolls World Tour rocks $100 million on VOD; Smallville cast reunion; more

By Josh Weiss
Trolls World Tour

The decision to skip a theatrical release in the age of coronavirus was a wise move that led to big returns for DreamWorks' Trolls World Tour

According to The Wall Street Journal, the animated movie has racked up nearly $100 million in the three short weeks since it arrived on VOD and digital platforms Friday, April 10. With approximately 5 million rentals at $19.99 a pop, Universal has generated over $77 million from a digital release model that allows studios to keep an estimated 80 percent of profits. Since the traditional theatrical model relies on a 50-50 kind of split, a film playing in a physical venue has to make a lot more money in order for a studio to turn a profit. 

The real point here is that Trolls Would Tour has brought in more tangible revenue during its first 19 days on demand than the first movie did during five months in theaters. Universal got about $77 million from 2016's Trolls, which finished its North American run with $153.7 million, but it took almost half a year to reach that point. That said, the cinematic progenitor of the animated franchise still went on to make over $340 million at the global box office.

 With the virtual success of World Tour, however, there's no going back to the old way of doing things—at least for certain releases.

“The outcomes for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of [premium video on demand],” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said in a statement to the WSJ. "As quickly as theaters reopen, we anticipate to launch films on both formats."

The company's plan to enact a dual rollout system is rather ingenious. People will most likely remain wary of theaters, even when it is deemed safe for them to re-open. The collective fear of COVID-19 will assuredly linger, which means folks are — for the foreseeable future — probably more willing to pay a little extra to see a big-budget movie from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Directed by Walt Dohrn (co-director of the first movie), World Tour finds Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake) on a mission to stop Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) from wiping all musical genres, except rock, from existence.

The Invisible Man and The Hunt were among the other Universal-produced flicks to hit VOD much earlier than planned after theaters around the globe shuttered their doors.

Want to hang out with Clark Kent, Lana Lang, and Lex Luthor?

Just donate to the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House via Omaze and you may end up in the midst of a virtual Smallville reunion comprised of Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, and Michael Rosenbaum. With everyone going on right now, this will be through video and not in person.

"Get the behind-the-scenes scoop on your favorite episodes (you know the ones you watch over and over again)," reads the Omaze site. "Find out their first impressions of each other — and how they changed after working so long together. Ask them what they miss most about the superhuman super-awesome show. Needless to say, you’ll be in for a memorable reunion."

Tom Welling Omaze
Michael Rosenbaum Kristin Kreuk Omaze

Created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, Smallville is a Superman prequel that explores Clark's formative years in his adopted hometown in Kansas. The hit series ran for over 200 episodes across 10 seasons between 2001 and 2011.

Welling recently reprised his role as Kent for The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths event.

Neal Baer, a showrunner known for small-screen projects like Designated Survivor and Under the Dome, is dabbling in our genetic code after signing with Echo Lake Entertainment. Per Deadline, he is currently developing The Edit, a sci-fi thriller about the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR.

In theory, the tech can be used to repair faulty pieces of DNA and heal genetic ailments like cancer and cystic fibrosis. Moreover, gene therapy could theoretically turn us into literal super-humans.

The Edit is set to explore the darker side of CRISPR, positing what would happen if you "cut out a healthy gene and replace it with a genetic ticking time bomb. When CRISPR is used by rogue scientists to eliminate a group of people deemed as undesirable, who will stop them?"

Neal Baer DNA

"Ricardo and I are thrilled that our first project is so timely as the world navigates a new normal,” Baer said in a statement to Deadline. “However, in this new age of pandemics, CRISPR could make COVID-19 look like child’s play. Which makes this project so relevant.”

“We have admired Neal for years for his talent, intelligence, and passionate creativity. Neal is far more than a television showrunner. He is a multi-hyphenate creator in features, documentary, unscripted, and so much more. We cannot wait to help launch the next chapter of Neal’s storied career,” added Echo Lake partner Zadoc Angell.

Baer, who is an actual medical doctor, shares writing duties with Designated Survivor vet Ricardo Perez Gonzalez.