AMC Theatres Refusing to Show UNIVERSAL Films Due to Direct-to-Home-Video Switch, Studio Responds

Recliner seats in AMC theaters

Recliner seats in AMC theaters

Credit: AMC Entertainment

Credit: Universal Pictures

AMC Theatres has announced the intention to not screen any Universal Pictures films at any of their theaters after the studio’s Trolls World Tour‘s switch from theatrical to home video release was lauded as a success by Universal’s parent company, NBCUniversal.

It all started when NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell made this statement to the Wall Street Journal.

“The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell said. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

AMC Theatres is the largest movie theater chain in both the United States and the world.

This would be a radical change in Universal Pictures’ business model – one that AMC has decided is “categorically unacceptable…”

“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” said AMC CEO/President Adam Aron (via The Hollywood Reporter). This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.”

Earlier this week, Universal revealed that Trolls World Tour raked in an estimated $100 million in its first three weeks as a VOD rental – citing that as a success and making the film profitable. THR reports that the original Trolls film earned $116m domestically in the first three weeks of its theatrical release.

AMC’s Aron goes on to say that this new policy isn’t just for Universal, but “extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.”

Warner Bros. and Disney, among others has switched some theatrical releases to home video, but the AMC President/CEO says “Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo.”

Universal was quick to respond, refuting what AMC inferred from the NBCUniversal CEO’s statement and re-stating its commitment to “the theatrical experience…”

“We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary,” Universal’s statement read. “As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theaters, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense.”

Among Universal’s notable current film franchises are The Fast & The Furious, Jurassic Park, Despicable Me, The Purge, Kung Fu Panda, the Dr. Seuss films, and the upcoming James Bond: No Time To Die.

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