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Regal Cinemas Slams Universal Over VOD Plans, Universal Comments on Criticism

April 29, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Trolls: World Tour Universal

Regal Cinemas has joined AMC Theaters in lambasting Universal over its plans going forward for VOD releases in the wake of Trolls: World Tour’s success. As previously reported, AMC sent a letter to Universal saying that they will no longer release Universal films after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said that “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats,” meaning theatrically and Premium Video on Demand (PVOD). Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, hasn’t quite gone that far but criticized Universal over Shell’s statement and suggested that such a ban is possible.

“Universal unilaterally chose to break our understanding and did so at the height of the Covid-19 crisis when our business is closed, more than 35,000 employees are at home and when we do not yet have a clear date for the reopening of our cinemas,” the statement read (per Deadline).

It goes on to say that “Universal’s move is completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency…Today we make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.”

Meanwhile, Universal has weighed in on AMC’s letter with a public statement in which they suggest that Shell’s remarks were taken out of context.

“We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary,” Universal said. “As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theaters, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense. 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.”

The statement also said, “Our goal in releasing Trolls: World Tour on PVOD was to deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home, while movie theatres and other forms of outside entertainment are unavailable. Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move.”

Universal has several releases currently slated for later this year including The Forever Purge, Candyman, Halloween Kills, and No Time to Die, though the latter is only being distributed by the studio internationally. United Artists is releasing it in the US. On the slate for next year are the likes of F9, Jurassic World: Dominion, Minions: The Rise of Gru, and Halloween Ends.