AMC Theatres has refused to air any Universal movies effective immediately after certain comments were made by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell that were deemed unacceptable. The comments were based on their decision to bypass a traditional theatrical release for Trolls World Tour while turning it into a digital exclusive, as reported by an entertainment portal.
In conversation with an international daily, Jeff Shell stated that the Trolls World Tour was quite a success in meeting their expectations, as it was able to bring in close to $100 million in revenue from digital sales alone with over five million copies sold.
He also said that as soon as theatres reopen after the current crisis, they expect to release films on both formats, which means some movies would have the theatrical releases while others would go straight to digital retailers or possibly make it to Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new OTT service.
Those were the comments that led to a lengthy statement from AMC Theatres chair-CEO Adam Aron, who called Jeff’s comments “unacceptable.” Adam noted that his comments were actually disappointing, which perhaps has left them with no option and hence the decision to no longer play any Universal movies in any of their theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East, effective immediately.
He also said that the policy will affect any and all the Universal movies per se, and will go into effect right away once their theatres reopen, adding that it is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Aron further clarified that the policy does not specifically target Universal out of pique or be punitive in any way, but it also extends to any other moviemaker who unilaterally abandons the existing windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between them, which enables them as distributors and AMC Theatres as an exhibitor to benefit where neither sides are hurt from such changes.
AMC Theatres is a major cinema chain, and losing access to its theatres in the United States would be a devastating blow for Universal’s upcoming movies, however, AMC isn’t the only exhibitor that is abandoning the studio. Cineworld, a company behind Regal Theaters, also made an announcement stating that they are joining AMC Theatres in refusing to play any Universal film, as confirmed by a recent report.
Image credits: Screen Daily