AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron introduced in an open letter to Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley that the nationwide theater chain will not display Universal’s movies following feedback by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell that the studio plans to launch extra movies day-and-date each theatrically and on video-on-demand.
“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice,” Aron wrote. “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. 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.”
Shell made the feedback in a Wall Street Journal story Thursday morning that reported the animated movie “Trolls World Tour” made $95 million in digital leases within the 19 days since its launch. The movie was initially deliberate for theatrical launch however was moved to day-and-date with digital launch in March as hundreds of theaters have been compelled to close down throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell stated. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
This trace that Universal might be abandoning the long-held theatrical window prompted a response from the National Association of Theater Owners, who insisted that the distinctive modifications in moviegoing habits introduced by the coronavirus lockdown are extra accountable for the success of “Trolls World Tour” than any perceived modifications in buyer habits.
“Universal does not have reason to use unusual circumstances in an unprecedented environment as a springboard to bypass true theatrical releases,” stated NATO president and CEO John Fithian. “Theaters provide a beloved immersive, shared experience that cannot be replicated – an experience that many of the VOD viewers of this film would have participated in had the world not been sequestered at home, desperate for something new to watch with their families. We are confident that when theaters reopen, studios will continue to benefit from the global theatrical box office, followed by traditional home release.”
AMC’s termination of its relationship with the studio means it is going to not display Universal blockbusters that want a theatrical launch to make again their huge manufacturing and advertising prices, comparable to “F9,” the ninth “Fast & Furious” movie that was moved to May 2021 due to the pandemic.
A rep for Universal tells TheWrap, “Our goal in releasing ‘Trolls: World Tour’ on PVOD was to deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home, while movie theatres and other forms of outside entertainment are unavailable. Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move. In fact, given the choice of not releasing ‘Trolls: World Tour,’ which would not only have prevented consumers from experiencing the movie but also negatively impacted our partners and employees, the decision was clear.”
The assertion continued, “Our desire has always been to efficiently deliver entertainment to as wide an audience as possible. We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary. As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theatres, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense. We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions.”
Aron additionally warned that the chain is keen to do the identical to different studios that make comparable strikes.
“AMC believes that with this proposed motion to go to the house and…
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