With movie theaters closed to hopefully no later than early June, the major studios have a permission slip to test out big pic releases in the home. Now, they’re not so insane that they’ll burn down the house to keep warm. Major movies like Disney’s Mulan and Black Widow which have the potential to do $1 billion at the global box office, thus triggering off a downstream of ancillary riches, aren’t the types of movies you’d debut in the home.
However, in the roll-of-the-die, Dreamworks Animation/Universal’s Trolls World Tour and now Disney’s former post Memorial Day weekend release Artemis Fowl are worthy experiments given how studios’ hands are currently tied in the current frozen theatrical marketplace. Disney will announce the release date for Artemis Fowl sometime in the near future for its streaming service.
While exhibition has been furious over Uni’s decision to take Trolls World Tour into homes, in this case with Disney, it’s better that Artemis Fowl is their only title currently skipping cinemas, and not an anticipated big grossing event feature. Artemis had already been jumped around the release calendar with an original early August date before being wedged in the post Memorial Day frame, which is generally a slow period at the box office. YA literary IP has become increasingly less certain in the wake of the uber success of The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. It’s not to say that it doesn’t work, but it really needs the momentum of its mass literary fans behind it. Disney’s bet on long-in-development classic A Wrinkle in Time, despite the star power of Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Oprah Winfrey, and the directing power of Ava DuVernay, spelled an estimated $131M loss after grossing $132.6M WW off a $125M production cost. It would be plausible to think that with Artemis Fowl here, they’re cutting their losses (particularly in global P&A spend which can range in excess of $100M for one of their tentpoles).
Why put Trolls World Tour in-homes? The movie skews very young, and has already built multitudes of kids at home with its spinoff Netflix series Trolls: The Beat Goes On.
“With audiences largely unable to attend theatres in the current environment, we are thrilled to offer the premiere of Artemis Fowl on Disney+,” said Ricky Strauss, President, Content & Marketing, Disney+ in a statement. “Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see brought to life onscreen for years. It’s great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney+’s summer lineup.”
Artemis Fowl is based on the best-selling young adult book by Eoin Colfer, and stars newcomer Ferdia Shaw in the title role alongside Lara McDonnell, Josh Gad, Tamara Smart, Nonso Anozie, Josh McGuire, Nikesh Patel and Adrian Scarborough, with Colin Farrell and Judi Dench.
Artemis Fowl follows a 12-year-old genius (Shaw), who is a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds. He embarks on a journey to find his father (Farrell), who has mysteriously disappeared. With the help of his loyal protector Butler (Anozie), Artemis sets out to find him, and in doing so uncovers an ancient, underground civilization—the amazingly advanced world of fairies. Deducing that his father’s disappearance is somehow connected to the secretive, reclusive fairy world, cunning Artemis concocts a dangerous plan—so dangerous that he ultimately finds himself in a perilous war of wits with the all-powerful fairies.
Branagh, p.g.a. and Judy Hofflund are producing with Angus More Gordon and Matthew Jenkins serving as executive producers. Conor McPherson and Hamish McColl wrote the screenplay.