AMC Theatres, Universal Agree to 17-Day Theatrical Release Window

In a surprise move, AMC Theatres has agreed to a deal with NBCUniversal that allows the movie studio to make its films available on premium video on-demand (PVOD) services just 17 days after the movie premieres in theaters. The deal marks the latest twist in a monthslong dispute between the two companies, during which AMC declared it would no longer carry Universal’s films in its theaters.

The new deal currently covers AMC’s US theaters and requires Universal’s films to play in theaters for 17 days, including three weekends. Typically, films that premiere in theaters aren’t made available elsewhere for a few months, but 2020 has been anything but typical.

Earlier this year, Universal brought its film Trolls World Tour to PVOD services amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and large-scale theater closures. And when Universal later praised the film’s performance in the rental market (a reported $100 million in its first three weeks), it expressed interest in leveraging streaming options for future film premieres. In response, AMC said it would no longer carry Universal’s films in its theaters, a move that raised eyebrows considering the studio has installments in its hugely popular Fast and Furious and Jurassic World franchises slated for next year.

While full terms and details weren’t available, the multi-year deal does include some level of revenue sharing, allowing AMC to make money off of PVOD rentals after the three-weekend window closes.

“The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business. 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,” Universal’s Donna Langley said in a press release.

AMC’s Adam Aron called the deal a “new industry model” that could open up more movie-making opportunities in the future.

“So, in total, Universal and AMC each believe this will expand the market and benefit us all. Focusing on the long-term health of our industry, we would note that just as restaurants have thrived even though every home has a kitchen, AMC is highly confident that moviegoers will come to our theatres in huge numbers in a post-pandemic world,” Aron said.

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