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Universal, AMC Announce Deal to Shorten Theatrical Window To As Few As 17 Days Before PVOD

July 28, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Universal Pictures AMC Theaters

Remember how Universal and AMC were at war a couple of months ago? Yeah, that’s over now that they’ve reached a landmark deal that will drastically shorten theatrical windows. Deadline reports that Universal and AMC announced a new multi-year agreement that will see Universal and Focus Features play their films at AMC theaters for a 17-day exclusive theatrical window, after which Universal has the option to make the films available on PVOD platforms.

The deal comes just three months after AMC reacted to Universal’s comments about Trolls: World Tour’s success with a shot across the bow, announcing that “Going forward, AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theatres globally” if Universal chose to move forward with the idea of potentially releasing some of its films day-and-date between VOD and theatrical.

The deal, which is strictly between AMC and Universal, drastically cuts the windows down from the 90 days that is typical. 18 days allows for the first three weekends, which is when most films make nearly all of their money. Deadline reports that big box office hits (citing examples like Get Out, Jurassic World, and the Fast & Furious franchise) will not be pulled and will likely live out the full theatrical run to gross maximum profits.

The deal will be followed up with talks about international distribution agreements in countries served by AMC such as Europe and the Middle East. Deadline reports that rival distributors are calling is “seismic” and one studio expects to see other studios start reaching similar deals with AMC, Regal, and Cinemark.

So why is this happened? As AMC Theaters head Adam Aron says, “AMC enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies.”

Translation: AMC will be getting a cut off of the PVOD revenue. How much is not yet known, but it is a middle ground that is getting one of the major theatrical chains to back off their extremely hardline standpoint regarding release windows. Universal’s traditional windows for electronic sell through (digital purchases) and non-premium VOD will remain the same.

The move is likely to result in some big changes in the theatrical industry, which has struggled to keep up with the rise of streaming services and other aspects that make home viewing the option of choice for many moviegoers.

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AMC Theatres, Universal, Jeremy Thomas