AMC Theaters (who also own UK Chain Odeon Cinemas) have vowed to no longer screen Universal Pictures films in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. That comes after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell spoke about the success of Trolls World Tour on VOD platforms amassing $100 million.
“The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell told The Wall Street Journal yesterday. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.” In response, AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron hit back by making a decision it’s hard to imagine them not regretting down the line.
“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 theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” Aron wrote.
“This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat,” he continued. “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.”
Universal responded to these comments by noting that, “going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theaters, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense,” adding that they believe they made the right move by releasing Trolls World Tour on VOD platforms given the current climate and the fact that people at home are currently without entertainment. Here is Universal’s full statement:
“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,” a rep for Universal said.
“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 statement 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 theaters, 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.”
AMC is already in serious trouble, and it’s believed that they could end up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy if these closures continue. Universal has pushed back F9, Minions: The Rise of Gru to next year as well as Candyman to September.
SOURCE: NBC Universal