Theater Chains Are Refusing To Show Universal Pictures Releases

Insider Articles
April 30, 2020
by Kyle Brester
Regal
Aditya Vyas (via unsplash.com)
Aditya Vyas (via unsplash.com)

Theaters have fired back at Universal Pictures after NBC Ceo Jeff Shell's statement to the Wall Street Journal in regards to Trolls World Tour crossing $100 million in North America on VOD. Shell had stated that "As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats." This means that Universal would want to do a day-and-date theatrical-VOD release.

Naturally, theaters are not too thrilled about this announcement.

First was AMC, whose CEO and President Adam Aron had released an open letter stating that Universal wanted Trolls World Tour to be a direct-to-home release due to theaters being closed and their commitment to their toy licensing deal. Even though AMC had their doubts about those being the only reasons due to Universal wanting to do home day and dates for a while, they still agreed due to what the world is going through. However, Universal seemed to have gone back on their word after what they told the WSJ, which is unacceptable for AMC. As such, they have declared that they "will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally on these terms." The full letter can be read via Collider.

This has only gotten Regal Entertainment owner Cineworld Group to join AMC's side of the battle. Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger agrees with Aron and has called Universal's decision "completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice." Greidinger's response can be read via Deadline.

Universal Pictures has responded to theaters (mainly Aron & AMC) about their decision. They state that they "absolutely believe in the theatrical experience" and that they "expect to release future films directly to theatres, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense." Universal proceeded to take shots at AMC and NATO saying they're "disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt form AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions."

There's a lot to unpack here, so hopefully, I do a decent job at explaining my thinking in all this. 

I understand where AMC is coming from in terms of fighting back against Universal's decision, but it was a bit tough seeing them win this fight due to their recent bankruptcy issues. While there are still studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. who are still honoring the theatrical releasing system (hopefully), Universal still has big titles that can help AMC get their business upright again.

However, by having Regal join AMC in the fight against Universal, this does give the theaters more leverage. Who knows, maybe other chains and independent theaters will follow suit. 

I do understand where Universal is coming from as a business perspective. Yes, there are many titles they own such as Fast & Furious and Jurassic World that they obviously want to play in theaters first, but they probably think that smaller titles or children's films would be best if put in theaters and VOD on the same day to get the most money. That being said, I don't agree with their handling of the situation and their future plans because they do feel like a middle finger to theaters.

This topic will be discussed on SSI's upcoming episode of Off The Break Podcast this Friday, so be sure to look out for it if you want to hear a larger discussion of the matter.
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Trolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1MTrolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1MTrolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1MTrolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1M
Trolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1MTrolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1MTrolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1MTrolls World Tour$0.4MThe Invisible Man$0.3MDolittle$0.2MThe Hunt$0.2MOnward$0.2MThe Wretched$0.1MJumanji: The Next Level$0.1MSonic The Hedgehog$0.1MBad Boys for Life$0.1MThe Call of the Wild$0.1M
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