The King of Staten Island, the semi-autobiographical flick starring Saturday Night Live‘s Pete Davidson was mysteriously pulled from cinemas just two days before its debut. And Universal offered no explanation.
Director Judd Apatow confirmed this via Twitter on June 10, saying: “THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND IS ONLY OPENING ON VOD FRIDAY. IT IS NOT OPENING IN THEATERS.”
King of Staten Island was set release on June 19 to a limited number of theaters and premium video-on-demand providers. But the studio has since relegated the release to PVOD only (available since yesterday, June 12th). One Universal representative called the theatrical release “a misunderstanding”, and said that Universal “asked for those theaters that had booked it, not to play it.”
One has to wonder how Universal made the mistake of distributing King of Staten Island to theaters in the first place if it was never intended to screen the film. Theater owners are understandably dissatisfied with this decision, having to announce the cancellation to audience members and reimburse ticket sales. “There was no explanation. They changed their mind,” said one anonymous theater owner. Said another, “This caused a considerable amount of ill will with customers who bought tickets online showing up for the Thursday 7 p.m. show.”
Even before this incident, Universal has had pushback from theater owners over splitting ticket sale profits, usually only done with wide releases. Yet despite the dissent of smaller, independent cinema owners, CEO of AMC Adam Aron downplayed the incident, saying, “Relations are warm with Universal. Relations with Universal have always been warm. There is nothing personal about this issue with Universal … this is just an issue about money.”