Universal’s deal with AMC shortens theatrical exclusivity to 17 days

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AMC and Universal did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but as The Hollywood Reporter points out, it appears they will share PVOD revenue. That point is what seems to have tipped the scales for the country’s largest theater chain. “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,” said AMC CEO Adam Aron.

The agreement comes after the two companies had a falling out in April. Aron said the chain would not play Universal movies at any of its theaters across the US, Europe and the Middle East after Universal floated the idea of releasing its films in cinemas and at home on the same day. 

According to The Wall Street JournalTrolls World Tour, one of the movies Universal released directly to PVOD platforms like Apple TV this past spring, made $95 million after three weeks. Jeff Shell, the head of NBCUniversal, told the paper that “as soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”   

The deal could present a way forward for an industry dealing with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis forced theaters across the US to close in March. AMC currently plans to reopen sometime in mid- to late-August. It could also give some movies, which currently have no release date thanks to deals studios signed to show them at theaters, a way to make their way online.  

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