AMC Theaters has banned Universal Studios films from their theaters following the exclusively on-demand release of their latest film Trolls World Tour.
Due to the current situation resulting from social distancing precautions, many films are going straight to on-demand rather than have a typical theatrical release date. Universal Studios did just that, rather than delay the release of Trolls World Tour; they opted to go digital to the dismay of AMC Theaters.
With social distancing precautions, theaters have been some of the hardest hit. There have been significant financial losses for theaters all across the country, so it’s unsurprising AMC was so offended. Additionally, The Trolls sequel was highly profitable, making nearly $100 million in VOD rentals over its first three weeks, generating $77 million in revenue for the studio.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told The Wall Street Journal, “[The film] exceeded our expectations and proved the viability of [premium video on demand]. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
Following Shell’s comments, AMC Theaters chair-CEO Adam Aron sent a letter to Shell expressing his feelings of contempt, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In the letter, Aron stated, “ effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East. This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today, and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us.”
As tensions are still running between the two corporations, it is unclear how this move will affect business for Universal Studios.