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AMC in ‘Active Dialogue’ With Universal Regarding Straight to PVOD Title Releases

Torrey Hart

AMC Theatres is actively engaging with Universal Pictures regarding its new practice of releasing titles straight to paid video-on-demand as the theater behemoth prepares to reopen globally in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said in a statement on Tuesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Amid theater closures, some major production companies opted to take their new films to PVOD immediately upon release and found success. Universal, for example, released “Trolls World Tour” on-demand for $19.99 in April and amassed over $100 million in the first three weeks it was available.

In the wake of that trial run, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell said that more digital-only releases were “inevitable,” sparking AMC to say it would no longer show the industry leader’s films at its brick-and-mortar locations.

“While we are in active dialogue with Universal, no movies made by Universal Studios are currently on our docket,” AMC’s Tuesday statement, which accompanied its first-quarter financial results, said.

The company, which has closed most of its theaters through to the end of June, recorded a loss of $2.17 billion in the first quarter, including $1.85 billion of non-cash impairment charges (as compared with a year-earlier loss of $130 million).

AMC has reopened 10 theaters in Norway, Germany, Spain and Portugal, its statement said, and is anticipating major boosts from screening Warner Bros’ release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on July 17, as well as Disney’s “Mulan” on July 24.

The company expects to “fully open globally in July,” CEO Adam Aron said. He added: “We are confident we are taking the necessary steps on a broad array of fronts to ensure AMC’s future success as we navigate these turbulent and uncertain times.”