AMC and Universal Are Changing Film Distribution Forever
The major studio and major chain may have hastened the demise of the theatrical business model.
It was just a few months ago that Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC Entertainment, wrote a very angry, very public letter to Universal Studios head Donna Langley. (Was that just April? What is time anymore?)
The giants were publicly sparring over the premium video-on-demand release of Trolls World Tour, and the studio's apparent intent to continue releasing its films on-demand the same day they got theatrical releases. Aron and AMC were not happy about this.
"This radical change by Universal to the business model that currently exists between our two companies represents nothing but downside for us and is categorically unacceptable to AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest collection of movie theatres," Aron wrote to Langley in April. "Going forward, AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally on these terms."
Yikes. You can read the full letter on Deadline.
But today, these two mammoth figures of the film industry have made a deal to change the timeline of film distribution in a way that makes everyone happy. Big Hollywood films will now make their way into living rooms and laptop screens faster than ever.
Now, Universal and Focus Features films will get an AMC run for a 17-day exclusive theatrical window. Then Universal can take the film to PVOD platforms. This includes the AMC Theaters on Demand service. AMC will still see a cut of those PVOD profits.
The films will cost at least $19.99 for on-demand viewing.
Bigger, blockbuster movies that will benefit from longer theatrical runs will likely not go immediately to PVOD release, like the new Fast & Furious or Jurassic World sequels.
The major studios have been talking about changes to the theatrical release model for a long time. Typically, films spend about 90 days in the theater before they move to other outlets. Langley said in October that "it's a nonstarter for the companies to have the conversation with exhibition. Our agendas are not aligned at all."
Turns out that a global pandemic was all that was needed to spark the conversation, it seems. Now Aron says that AMC "enthusiastically embraces this new industry model" and that the new deal will benefit both companies.
What do you think? Are you excited to pay $20 to watch new releases at home, or would you rather have longer theatrical runs? Let us know in the comments!