2:30 pm EDT, April 25, 2013

Disney in dispute with major theaters, ‘Iron Man 3’ may be missing in certain theaters (updated)

Disney is currently in dispute with Regal Entertainment, the largest theater chain in the U.S., and as of now they won’t be showing Iron Man 3 in their theaters.

iron man 3 disney smallYesterday the L.A. Times reported that theaters owned by Regal Entertainment would be pulling marketing materials for Iron Man 3 from their theaters. Apparently, the reason is that Disney has requested theaters to give them a larger share of Iron Man 3 ticket sales, and some theaters have decided to play with fire and buck at their request. Fans have been commenting recently about the fact that they haven’t been able to pre-order Iron Man 3 tickets, so we decided to investigate.

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We contacted managers at Regal, AMC, and Cinemark, to which all three have stated that they will not be showing Iron Man 3 in their theaters “until further notice.”

Why haven’t we heard more about this until now? Most likely because Disney is hoping that they can quietly figure out a deal before the film hits U.S. theaters next Friday. Usually ticket pre-orders start a month in advance for a film as massive as Iron Man 3, but tickets are still unavailable at all Regal, AMC, and Cinemark theaters in the nation.

There are roughly 40,000 movie screens in the U.S. and Regal Entertainment consists of 7,367 of those screens in 580 locations, AMC consists of roughly 4,000+ screens at more than 300 locations, while Cinemark provides 3,895 screens in 298 locations. That’s over 16,000 screens which won’t be available to Disney if they can’t complete a deal by May 3.

iron man 3 regal wide

According to sources, the box office percentages that film studios and theaters split can change based upon a film’s popularity and how long it stays in theaters. A film such as Iron Man 3 could be a 90/10 split during the first few weeks, with Disney receiving 90% of the ticket sales, and if the film was to stay in theaters for an extended period of time, the theaters would start getting an additional percentage of ticket sales – sometimes even resulting in a 50/50 split.

Disney is reportedly requesting a much higher percentage of ticket sales for Iron Man 3, along with additional future films, and AMC’s (Regal has partnered with AMC in the past) Chief Executive, Gerry Lopez, told The Times last week that Disney’s request “puts us in a very, very uncomfortable situation.” After all, summer accounted for $4.3 billion of last year’s record-breaking $10.8 billion in ticket revenue in the U.S. and Canada. This wouldn’t be the best time to start a war of percentages.

iron man 3 cinemarkJust imagine the amount of money that would be lost in food and drinks alone if Regal, AMC, and Cinemark can’t bang out a deal to have Iron Man 3 in their theaters. The film is currently tracking to have a $160 million dollar opening weekend, and will most likely go on to nearly break $1 billion by the time it leaves theaters.

There has to be a good reason why they’re unwilling to do this deal with Disney, but we can’t imagine ticket percentages even come close to what they pull in at their concession stands when the theaters are selling $8 dollar cokes, $7 dollar popcorn, and $6 dollar candy. The percentage must be something like they’ve never seen.

We have to imagine that Disney and the theaters will work out a deal before the film hits theaters next Friday, but with Regal removing Iron Man 3 marketing materials from their floors, we’re a bit concerned about whether the deal will be worked out in time for the premiere. As with most major hangups in business, it all comes down to each side making a compromise – we just hope it doesn’t prevent any fans from seeing the most anticipated movie of the summer.

Did you plan on seeing ‘Iron Man 3’ at one of these theaters?

Update: According to Deadline, AMC has ended its dispute with Disney and has started selling tickets for Iron Man 3. No word yet from Regal or Cinemark as to whether they’ve also ended their disputes.

Update #2: Regal has reportedly finalized negotiations with Disney and intends to post this on their Facebook page: “Regal has Iron Man 3! After some extensive talks with Disney, we’re glad to say that Tony Stark will definitely be in our theatres for Iron Man 3. We’ve got Fandango working overtime right now to place tickets back on sale at all Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theatres.”

We’re glad to see AMC and Regal working with Disney and it looks like tickets will be available for the film later tonight for pre-order. We’ll update this post when tickets go on sale.

Update #3: Iron Man 3 tickets can now be pre-ordered via Fandango for AMC and Regal theaters. Still no official word from Cinemark theaters, but fans have stated that they can now purchase tickets from Cinemark’s website.

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