The odd pandemic-sparked standoff between AMC Theaters and Universal may officially be a thing of the past. Variety reported Wednesday that the movie chain and studio had reached an agreement on distributing movies on-demand after initially beefing over Trolls World Tour.
As Variety reported on Wednesday, the two sides apparently squashed what had become a fascinating battle between the movie theater chain and a studio that had angered the former by releasing the children’s movie on-demand amid the coronavirus shutdown as theaters were closed nationwide.
The new agreement sets us a framework for Universal’s films to hit premium on-demand platforms within three weeks of a movie debuting in theaters. studio’s films to premiere on premium video on-demand within three weeks of their theatrical debuts.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. However, in a statement, AMC’s CEO Adam Aron said the company will “share in these new revenue streams,” which means that it will get a cut of any money made on these digital rentals. Universal only has the ability to put its movies on premium on-demand, meaning the rentals that go for roughly $20 a pop. It cannot sell films or rent them for lower on-demand fees, in the $3 to $6 range, until three months after they debut in cinemas.
The move, essentially, allows studios to put movies on demand much earlier than it did pre-pandemic, something theaters were initially against as the theatrical window for major releases is obviously how they make their money. Universal’s decision to (very successfully) put Trolls World Tour straight to on-demand sparked a battle between AMC and Universal where the former initially said it would not show movies from the latter when the pandemic had passed.
AMC itself has gotten into the streaming video game, a move that happened before the COVID-19 pandemic but became much more significant a move amid theaters shutting down nationwide and the theatrical release schedule has been thrown into flux. It’s entirely unclear just when most theaters will be allowed to safely open, and who will buy tickets when they are able to in a nation still seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases in many states. The future of the movie industry will be fascinating to watch develop as society deals with the pandemic’s fallout, and the traditional theatrical window as we know it may look very different when all of this is over. But we do know now that Universal movies will, indeed, play at AMC locations when everything reaches a new normal and the shows actually do go on.