AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment have decided to blacklist future Universal titles following a dispute about the traditional 90-day window of release.
The decision stems from the success of recent Universal release Trolls World Tour.
Similar to many studios whose release slates were affected by the current coronavirus pandemic, Universal Studios opted to release films originally intended for the big screen in PVOD (premium VOD) format. One of these was Trolls World Tour, which went on to gross a whopping $100 million in premium VOD rentals in its first three weeks.
Given that success, Universal Pictures was reportedly looking to recreate that success with other titles, with NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell saying that the success of Trolls World Tour has “exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
That decision didn’t sit well with AMC Theatres, which on Tuesday decided to take a stand against NBCUniversal’s most recent comments by saying that the theater chain will no longer play any of the studio’s films if they plan on going forward with simultaneously releasing titles in theaters and on PVOD.
“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice,” said AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron in a letter sent to the studio according to Variety. “Therefore, effectively immediately, AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East.”
Shortly after, Universal responded with a statement in response AMC Theatres, saying: “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 theaters, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense.”
Regal Entertainment, the second largest movie theater franchise after AMC Theatres, then joined in, siding with AMC Theatres and saying that they want to “make it clear that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.”