AMC and Universal Reach Deal on Theatrical Window and PVOD Release
By Allyson Vannatta, Senior Writer
After months of feuding, AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures reached a historic deal regarding the theatrical window and premium video on demand releases.
Variety reports the two companies “Signed a multi-year agreement that will allow the studio’s films to premiere on premium video on-demand within three weeks of their theatrical debuts.”
Both parties released statements following the deal.
Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group said, “The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business. The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”
AMC CEO Adam Aron said, “Focusing on the long-term health of our industry, we would note that just as restaurants have thrived even though every home has a kitchen, AMC is highly confident that moviegoers will come to our theaters in huge numbers in a post-pandemic world. As people enjoy getting out of their homes, we believe the mystical escape and magical communal experience offered at our theaters will always be a compelling draw, including as it does our big screens, big sound and big seats not to mention the alluring aroma of our perfectly prepared popcorn.”
Aron also added that the company will “share in these new revenue streams,” which means AMC will get a portion of the money made from Universal’s PVOD rentals.
Any movies that make their way to PVOD after a theatrical release will go for $20 per rental.
The feud started when Universal announced they were going to simultaneously release TROLLS WORLD TOUR on PVOD and in those select theaters that were still operating.
Because of this, AMC made the decision to no longer play Universal titles at their theaters.
Movieguide® previously reported that Universal made $100 million in the first three weeks on PVOD with the TROLLS movie.
The new deal will allow Universal to hopefully make more money by releasing mid-budget comedies and horror movies on PVOD.
Not all theater chains are willing to bend like AMC though.
Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger made it clear where his company stands.
“While we don’t know the full details and we are always analyzing any move in the industry, we will analyze it. People need to be aware that the first big movie from Universal is coming only in six months so there is no pressure here,” Greidinger said. “But we clearly see this as a wrong move at the wrong time. Clearly we are not changing our policy with regards to showing only movies that are respecting the theatrical window.”
The battle over the theatrical window won’t end here.
Variety reports that this battle has been going on for years, and the coronavirus pandemic has “altered the power dynamics in the relationship between studios and theaters.”
With theaters still closed, it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to stick to a late August opening date or if more titles will move to PVOD before the end of the year.
Either way, the landscape of how and when moviegoers watch new movies will continue to evolve as the business is in uncharted waters.