In a rather surprising move, AMC Theatres announced earlier tonight that they will no longer be showing Universal Pictures movies. Meaning that when they reopen their doors, upcoming films like Fast & Furious 9, Minions 2 and Jurassic World 3, among many, many others, will not play on their screens.
This is due to Universal’s comments on how they’ll be handling distribution of their projects moving forward. Long story short, the studio said that after Trolls: World Tour surpassed their expectations, earning nearly $100 million in revenue via digital sales alone, they’ll be releasing “first-run movies on demand as well as in theaters” from now on.
Of course, this didn’t sit well with AMC Theatres, who called it unacceptable and in retaliation, banned all Universal movies from their chain from this point on.
“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice,” AMC said. “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.”
Now, Universal has fired back with their own statement, explaining the following:
“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. 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.”
“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 theatres, 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.”
Fair enough, and frankly, it’s easy to see both sides of the argument. The only question now, is, who will flinch first? On the one hand, you have Universal losing out on all those cinemas for some very, very big upcoming blockbusters. But on the other, AMC Theatres is also missing out by not showing these films, a lot of which audiences would no doubt flock to see on the big screen.
As such, we imagine some sort of compromise will eventually be reached, and can only hope that the two parties are able to see eye to eye before those aforementioned movies hit theaters. Fingers crossed.