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PVOD Deal With Universal Keeps AMC Theatres Open

Fern Siegel

Movie theaters are in trouble, given the pandemic’s upending of production schedules.

Regal Cinemas are shuttering in the U.S. and the U.K. But AMC Theatres is holding on. The company reports it won’t close any of its movie theaters that have reopened.

The reason? Its premium VOD deal it recently signed with Universal, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

That deal may prove a lifesaver and keep both parties happy.

It revamps release times, so a studio can stream movies on PVOD just 17 days after a big-screen debut. In exchange, AMC will share in the revenue. Most movie theaters aren’t keen on the schedule, but AMC is onboard.

The deal will give AMC what it needs most, new content, and give studios the flexibility they require in a challenging environment.

AMC chairman-CEO Adam Aron said it will screen “The War With Grandpa,” starring Robert De Niro, on Friday. Universal’s upcoming releases are the comedy “Freaky” (Nov. 3) and “The Croods: A New Age” (Nov. 25), reports THR.

However, big blockbusters like “Dune” and “The Batman” were pushed from the calendar on Monday. “Black Widow,” “Wonder Woman 1984″ and “No Time to Die,” have been postponed, too.

Universal can’t announce which titles are headed for PVOD.

AMC is the world’s largest movie theater circuit, followed by Cineworld, which owns Regal, and operates theaters in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. About 80% of its theaters have reopened in the U.S. with stringent safety guidelines: 40% capacity, moviegoers have to wear masks and sit six feet apart. It also upgraded its ventilation systems at many locations. And for its initial return, charged 15-cent, its 1920s price tag, to note its 100th anniversary.

Donna Langley, chairwoman of Universal Pictures, stated in late July: “The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”

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