We hear there’s no there there in regard to this news, but Universal had originally booked The King of Staten Island in around 100 theaters (there’s close to 988 open this weekend), and then changed their mind at the last minute and pulled back the release, keeping it strictly relegated to its PVOD drop Friday.
A studio source says about the booking of the Judd Apatow-directed Pete Davidson movie, “It was a misunderstanding, and we asked for those theaters that had booked it, not to play it.”
Meanwhile, Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour remains in release on both PVOD and played about 200 theaters last weekend. I’m told that was a different deal with whatever exhibitors were open — to have that pic play on screen and in home — while King of Staten Island was strictly a PVOD release.
Apatow corrected fans on Twitter who believed the movie, inspired by Davidson’s life, was in play at their local theaters. “It won’t be playing there. It is a mistake. It is only on VOD.”
Variety heard from drive-in exhibitors that Universal was asking for steep terms in the current COVID-19 environment in which most big exhibs like AMC, Cinemark and Regal remain shut down. AMC, after saying that it would block all Universal releases should they continue to commit to a simultaneous PVOD and wide theatrical release, mentioned in its earnings call that the company remains in talks with the studio.
Again, the only odd thing in all of this is — how much could Universal been asking theaters for on King of Staten Island? Trolls World Tour remains booked at movie theaters and will likely be No. 1 again this weekend in its 10th weekend after collecting $3 million from the handful of theaters that weathered the coronavirus shutdown.