Saturday, May 2, 2020

AMC Theaters Axes Universal After It Releases Trolls World Tour on Demand

If you’ve been anywhere near a TV lately—and you probably have—you likely saw that, amidst theater closings and coronavirus lockdowns, Universal Pictures released Trolls World Tour via video-on-demand a few weeks back. Well, AMC Theatres, which likely would’ve offered the movie if they’d been allowed to open, wasn’t too happy with that. In a letter published in The Hollywood Reporter, the cinema chain said that as a result of the incident, it will no longer feature any Universal picture.

“This policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also 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,” AMC chairman Adam Aron write in the letter. “Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.”

That comment Aron is referring to came from NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, who, in a Wall Street Journal piece on Tuesday, spoke about the fact that Trolls World Tour made some $100 million in premium VOD rentals in its first three weeks. “The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell told the Journal, which first reported the numbers. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.” In other words, they could release them online at the same time as theaters, a move that could affect how many fans leave the house to watch. After AMC’s letter, Universal clarified, saying in a statement that the studio is dedicated to the theater experience and “have made no statement to the contrary. 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.”

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