AMC & Universal Agree to Shrink Theatrical Window To 17 Days

AMC & Universal Agree to Shrink Theatrical Window To 17 Days
July 29, 2020
David Gonzalez
Film News, Reel Movies, Reel Talk Inc
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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Orlin Wagner/AP/REX/Shutterstock (5768491a)
People enter AMC’s Studio 30 theater
AMC Theatres Odeon and UCI, Olathe, Kansas, USA – 11 May 2005
AMC Theatres is buying European movie theater operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group in a deal valued at about 921 million pounds ($1.21 billion). AMC says, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, that the transaction will make it the biggest movie theater operator in the world. Odeon & UCI has 242 theaters in Europe. The deal will give AMC a total of 627 theaters in eight countries.

It was only a matter of time!

For quite some time, Universal has pushed for years to shorten the window, and in March, AMC CEO Adam Aron stated that his company was going to boycott all Universal titles after the studio said it was going to make Trolls World Tour immediately available on PVOD and in any theaters that were left open in early April.

After that announcement, I felt that a deal would eventually get done as the two sides needed each other. On Tuesday that deal was reached. AMC Theatres has struck a historic agreement with Universal that will allow the studio’s movies to be made available on premium video-on-demand after 17 days of play in cinemas, including three weekends.

The deal only covers AMC’s U.S. locations officially shatters the traditional theatrical window, that any release would remain on the big screen for nearly three months before making films available in the home.

The unprecedented move shows that the film industry has been changed forever thanks to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Tuesday’s announcement did specify what the price would be, but Trolls and other recent premium VOD titles haven charging $19.99 for a 48-hour rental window should be a good sign of what the price point will be. Along with that, AMC will receive a portion of the VOD profits.

The PVOD policy was part of a multi-year agreement in which AMC agreed to play Universal films. The deal includes at least three weekends of theatrical exclusivity for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases, at which time the studio will have the option to make its titles available across PVOD.

In a joint release, Universal and AMC said they reached the historic agreement based on their “shared commitment to a mutually beneficial long-term partnership that is focused on serving consumers worldwide, while preserving and enhancing the theatrical experience.” Insiders added that the deal provides consumers with options during uncertain times. The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business,” said Donna Langley, chair of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “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 nationality. AMC enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies. This multi-year agreement preserves exclusivity for theatrical viewing for at least the first three weekends of a film’s release, during which time a considerable majority of a movie’s theatrical box office revenue typically is generated.”

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020 may be the day that will be remembered as the day the theater industry changed forever.

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