AMC Theaters has a harsh retort to Universal Pictures’ decision to send Trolls World Tour to theaters and VOD at the same time.
The theatre chain has chosen to not show any Universal Films after the children’s movie made $100 million premium VOD rentals within its first three weeks. The film company chose the route of theatrical release and VOD release due to the coronavirus pandemic.
NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell spoke to the Wall Street Journal and said, “The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability for PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
AMC Theaters shot back and CEO Adam Aaron write a strongly worded letter to Donna Langley, the chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, expressing that Shell’s comments broke up “the business model and dealings between our two companies.”
“It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal’s part as to how its actions affect us. “It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effective 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.”
However, Aron did state that “AMC is willing to sit down with Universal to discuss different windows strategies and different economic models between your company and ours,” but because those talks haven’t happened, “our decades of incredibly successful business activity together has sadly come to an end.”
A spokesperson for Universal Films says, “Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move. In fact, given the choice of not releasing Trolls: World Tour, which would not only have prevented consumers from experiencing the movie but also negatively impacted our partners and employees, the decision was clear. Our desire has always been to efficiently deliver entertainment to as wide an audience as possible.”
The spokesperson added that, “We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions.”