Yesterday it was reported that AMC theaters would no longer be screening Universal films over their decision to put Trolls World Tour out directly through video on-demand services and now, Cineworld’s Regal Cinemas is making the same move.
The move comes following NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell’s comments that they’re intending to release films in both formats when theaters reopen.
In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, Shell says Trolls World Tour ended up surpassing expectations with almost $100 million in revenue via digital sales alone.
Shell notes that because of the success of the digital release, once “ theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.” This means several other films are heading for digital releases which is striking a nerve with AMC.
AMC Theatres chair-CEO Adam Aron penned a lengthy statement on those comments saying they are “unacceptable.”
“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,” Aron continues. “Incidentally, 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.”
Now, Cineworld, who owns the Regal Entertainment theater chain, is joining AMC.
“Universal’s move is completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency,” Cineworld says.
Further, Cineworld is clarifying that this is only applying to films skirting around the 90-day theatrical release period typically followed before the coronavirus pandemic. This time frame is intending to give number boosts to all aspects of the industry but questions have been raised in the past about how studios view the time frame before hitting streaming services.
“Today we make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.”
Trolls World Tour went on sale as a 48-hour rental for $19.99 on April 10 and several other films are looking at similar release methods.
“We invest heavily in our cinemas across the globe and this allows the movie studios to provide customers all around the world to watch the movies in the best experience. There is no argument that the big screen is the best way to watch a movie. Universal unilaterally chose to break our understanding and did so at the height of the Covid-19 crisis when our business is closed, more than 35,000 employees are at home and when we do not yet have a clear date for the reopening of our cinemas.”
Universal is disputing AMC’s claims though according to CNN.
They told the news site they believe in theatrical releases and “have made no statement to the contrary.”
Movie theater chain Cinemark is aiming at a soft July reopening for their theaters and others could join in eventually too. They’re estimating they can stay profitable even with “20 to 30 percent of capacity.”
Some countries including Spain are discussing plans for reopening their economy so movie theaters are looking at their future and what films will be screening when that’s happening.
What do you think of the issues between Universal and various movie theater chains? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.