New Universal and AMC Deal Cuts Theatrical Exhibition Window

New Universal and AMC Deal Cuts Theatrical Exhibition Window

New Universal and AMC Deal Cuts Theatrical Exhibition Window

In the multi-year deal, films released by Universal Pictures can become available on premium video on demand channels only three weeks after their theatrical release.

Universal and AMC Theaters have announced a multi-year agreement in which films released under the Universal Pictures and Focus Features banners will be exhibited in AMC Theaters across the United States with a 17-day theatrical window. The typical theatrical release window is usually around 3 months, so 17 days is quite the departure from the way business has been done for years.

But studios, including Universal, have long favored the shortened window, contending that viewers want to be able to watch their movies at home sooner. By reducing the period Universal has to wait to put its movies onto premium video on-demand platforms - known as PVOD - other cinemas will effectively have to either follow suit or boycott films from the studio. 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 theatres in huge numbers in a post-pandemic world. "With this historic industry-changing agreement, together we will continue to do so and in a way that should drive success for us both".

The deal repairs a rift between AMC, the world's largest theater chain, and Universal, which is owned by Comcast Corp. Thanks in part to the fact that the parent companies of many major studios now own their own premium streaming services, studios have been testing the waters of straight-to-VOD for big-budget titles like, in the instance of Universal Pictures, the stupidly successful Trolls World Tour digital release.

The company in mid-March announced plans to move its theatrical releases to digital retailers, charging $20 for a 48-hour rental of movies, including "The Invisible Man" and "Emma".

That infuriated theater owners. In the coming weeks, the two companies will begin discussions surrounding global distribution agreements in the countries in Europe and the Middle East served by AMC.

Variety reports that AMC president Adam Aron says his company will "share in these new revenue streams", which I believe marks the first time a theater chain will receive a cut of a studio's digital rentals. "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", said Donna Langley, chair of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, in commenting on the deal.

Editor's Note: Release dates within this article are based in the USA, but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more. Exhibitors, including AMC, are now planning on a large-scale reopening by late August, with Warner Bros.′ Tenet prepared to usher moviegoers back over the Labor Day weekend, after debuting a week earlier overseas.

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