Famously (assuming you follow this sort of thing), Netflix has historically been reluctant to specifically say just how many subscribers have streamed a given thing, preferring instead to use its own secret metrics to determine how successful something has been and then make relatively meaningless public statements about how a movie or show has had the biggest debut ever—which we just have to take on face value most of the time because we don’t know where Netflix gets its numbers and it rarely ever shares them. Now, with the physical box offices pretty much shuttered due to the coronavirus and major movies heading straight to on-demand, the Netflix model of saying that something is popular and giving us no choice but to trust it has become a viable option for even more studios.
Case in point, Universal has proudly announced that Trolls World Tour has had the biggest debut for any digitally released movie, and we just have to go with it. How many people actually rented the movie? How many people saw it at one of the country’s drive-in theaters that are still open? How much money did it actually make? Insert shrug emoji here, because we don’t have answers to any of those. This comes from Variety, which says the FandangoNow streaming platform corroborated Universal’s brag, saying the Trolls sequel had “the best preorders, first day, and opening weekend sales” of any other movie in FandangoNow history. It’s also the top movie on Amazon, Comcast, and Apple’s movie rental charts, but again, shrug emoji.
Of course, there are some other factors that contribute to Universal being able to make a claim like this. For starters, major movies like this used to premiere in theaters, so the fact that one is launching on on-demand services (regardless of why it’s doing that) means it’s much more likely to get attention than an older movie that had a theatrical run six months ago. Also, most of the other big movies that recently moved to on-demand (Bloodshot, The Invisible Man, etc.) already had theatrical releases, so one could argue that they didn’t debut on digital platforms like Trolls did. But still, Universal would never lie to us, so let’s just trust that Trolls World Tour is hugely successful.