8:11 pm EDT, April 29, 2020

Regal joins AMC in blacklisting Universal titles following 90-day window dispute

Update (4/29/20): Regal Entertainment is throwing its support behind AMC Theaters, who yesterday announced that they will no longer show any Universal titles in their cinemas.

The ongoing feud between the studio and the mammoth movie theater chains comes on the heels of Universal revealing that it plans to release future titles both theatrically and in the PVOD format following the incredible success of Trolls World Tour.

On Tuesday (April 28), AMC hit back at the studio’s decision to violate the traditional 90-day window in which new titles are available to watch exclusively at the cinema.

Now, it’s looking like AMC Theaters isn’t the only big cinema chain who’s upset by Universal’s recent comments.

On Wednesday (April 29), Cineworld Group (the company who owns Regal Entertainment) chimed in on the matter saying, “Today we 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.”

That Regal is siding with AMC on this one is a big deal— especially given that Regal is the second largest movie theater chain in the world.

Per Deadline, the full statement also goes on to call Universal’s move “completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency.”

“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,” reads the statement, “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.”

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Now that Regal and AMC have formed a united front, we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before other companies fall in line.

You can read up on what AMC said on the matter just 24-hours ago below.

Original Story (4/28/20):

AMC Theaters isn’t happy about Universal’s plans to release some titles simultaneously on premium and in theaters, following the success of Trolls World Tour.

Like many studios who had their release slates affected by the current coronavirus pandemic, Universal Studios opted to release a handful of its titles originally intended for the big screen in PVOD (premium VOD) format.

The great news for movie fans is that titles like Trolls World Tour were made available to watch in the comfort of your own home amid current theater shutdowns due to COVID-19.

The decision to release Trolls World Tour on premium VOD rentals on April 10 certainly paid off. The family feature raked in a whopping $100 million in premium VOD rentals in its first three weeks and now, it seems as though Universal Pictures is looking to recreate that success with other titles.

While speaking to the Wall Street Journal, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said 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 NBCUniversal might now be contemplating simultaneously releasing titles on PVOD and in theaters would definitely be a huge move — especially given that currently, most films aren’t available on PVOD until about 90 days after they’re exclusively in movie theaters.

It’s great news for moviegoers who would prefer to stay in to enjoy some newer releases — but not everyone is pleased by the idea.

In fact, AMC Theaters is specifically pretty up in arms about the possibility.

On Tuesday (April 28), the mammoth theater chain took a stand against NBCUniversal’s most recent comments 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.”

In his letter, Aron continues to say that AMC’s new policy doesn’t just go for Universal titles — but “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.”

Shortly after, Universal hit back with a statement in response, 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.”

It’s an interesting move on AMC Theaters’ part for sure, but given how many huge releases Universal Studios has coming down the pipeline — including new installments of tentpole franchises such as Fast & Furious, Minions, and Jurassic World — it’ll be interesting to see if they stick to their guns on this one.

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