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You know that iconic Universal Pictures logo? The one where giant silver letters envelop the Earth? It won’t be shown at AMC Theaters anytime soon.
Why? Because AMC, the largest cinema chain in the United States, has announced a blanket ban on all Universal films, after the latter studio declared it would continue to release movies simultaneously via theaters and streaming once the social restrictions brought on by Coronavirus are lifted.
Citing the runaway success of Trolls World Tour ($100 million through digital sales alone), Universal hopes to explore VOD releases in the future, raising major question marks over the likes of Fast & Furious 9 and Jurassic World: Dominion – two juggernauts currently on course for delayed theatrical releases.
But Universal’s announcement has ruffled some feathers (to put it mildly), after Cineworld (who own Regal Cinemas) today confirmed plans to join AMC in its boycott of Universal movies.
Universal’s move is completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency.
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However, Jeff Shell, CEO of NBC Universal, has gone on record to stress that the studio isn’t turning its back on the theatrical experience, merely that Universal is hoping to offer more options to movie-goers in the current climate.
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.
These are unprecedented times, and while much digital ink has been spilled over the inevitable (?) rise in PVOD (Premium Video On Demand), Hollywood’s major studios clearly believe that their hands have been forced. Particularly when you consider the economic implications of COVID-19 – AMC, for instance, recently announced plans to sell off $500 million in debt, having furloughed around 25,000 employees.
It’s a complicated situation without any clear (or indeed fair) solution, and we’ll be bringing you all the latest developments as this unfolds. But at least for the time being, neither Cineworld nor AMC Theatres will be screening anything that hails from Universal Pictures… and that includes Jurassic World: Dominion and F9.