Not that anyone can go to movie theaters right now (unless you happen to be someplace where there are no restrictions) but AMC Theaters has announced that they will no longer be showing any films made by Universal Pictures.
Why? Well, Universal Pictures put its new animated film, Trolls World Tour, on Video-on-Demand platforms, since it wasn’t going to be able to make it to theaters. The initial estimates thought that film would at least make back the production costs. However, it turns out the move was smart on Universal’s part, as the film ended up earning dealt $100 million in rental fees, which is actually better than the first Trolls film did.
So, naturally, that opens a lot of doors for Universal and their marketing and distribution strategies. The tipping point was when NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told The Wall Street Journal that “as soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
AMC CEO Adam Aron did not like that at all, and he wrote an open letter to Universal Pictures, stating that this change in business model was “represents nothing but downside for us and is categorically unacceptable” and that the theaters would no longer show Universal Pictures’ films in any of their theaters internationally. They also said they would do the same to any other studios looking to do the same thing.
Universal came back with a statement, which could be a backtrack, that they would only be pushing films to Video On Demand directly when they felt it was the better move. “Our goal in releasing Trolls: World Tour” on demand “was to deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home, while movie theatres and other forms of outside entertainment are unavailable,” a Universal spokesperson said in a statement. “Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move.”
It also brings up the question of when films are being shown in theaters while being available on streaming platforms, like with what happened with Netflix’s The Irishman. One has to wonder if this kind of multi-viewing release style will come to be the norm, whether movie theaters boycott it or not.
What do you think — is direct to VOD and movie screening combos going to be the new norm? Is AMC justified or overreacting? Let me know in the comments!