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AMC Theatres CEO Expects 17-Day Release Window Deal With Universal to Become an Industry Standard

Stephanie Sengwe

Last week, Universal and Focus Features agreed to make films available exclusively in theaters for at least 17 days ahead of Premium Video On-Demand (PVOD). This would be drastically shorter than the normal 90-day window between a theatrical and digital download.

The decision came after months of dissension between the two parties, in which NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell announced the company’s plans to do more PVOD releases and skip theatrical bows following the success of “Trolls World Tour.” The decision didn’t sit well with AMC, who then refused to host all Universal films altogether.

Now, after striking the groundbreaking deal, AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron said he expects the 17-day window release “to become an industry standard” during their Q2 2020 earnings call on Thursday. Aron revealed that the company came to the realization that films will be going to streaming services, whether they were on board or not.

“Sometimes, one has to stare change in the face, recognize that it has or soon will arrive and reshape it to one’s own benefit,” Aron stated. “Netflix has outbid major studios for one script after another. Disney took “Hamilton,” “Artemis Fowl” and now “Mulan” to Disney+. Warner took “SCOOB!” to HBO Max. Paramount took “SpongeBob” to CBS All Access. Sony sold Tom Hanks’ new “Greyhound” to Apple TV+. Exhibition will not receive $0.01 on any of these movies. Sure, some hope that this is merely a short-term coping with closed theaters during the virus, but we saw a change in the industry where we at AMC needed to figure out how to be included in the economics of all film viewing whether it takes place in our theaters, on our own website or on people’s couches at home.”

Aron further broke down some of the terms of their deal with Universal. For one, AMC will still be able to profit off all titles even after they’ve moved to PVOD by “receiving a share of each film’s PVOD revenue stream … as well as receiving considerable additional economics when the film is retailed [on the] AMC Theaters on demand service.”

In addition, Universal is contractually not allowed to reveal which of its titles will be going to PVOD until after the movie’s first two theatrical weekends. Aron also revealed that though the model with Universal is still so new, AMC has offered it to all their studio partners.

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