Now Cineworld Is Refusing To Screen Universal Films

Joanna Estrada
April 30, 2020

It has already been announced that another Universal film - The King of Staten Island - will have its premier on video on demand in June.

Trolls World Tour went on sale as a 48-hour rental for $19.99 on April 10 and several other films are looking at similar release methods.

"Universal was the only studio that tried to take advantage of the current crisis and provide a "day-and-date" release of a movie that was not yet released", Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Regal parent Cineworld, said in a statement. The comments prompted AMC Theatres to announce it will immediately cut ties with the studio and boycott Universal films in its cinemas across the U.S., Europe and Middle East.

It follows comments from NBCUniversal which said the film Trolls World Tour had performed well despite only being available on streaming services. If that is all that Universal is proposing - options - then I'm all in favour of it and cinema chains like AMC need to realize that a post-COVID-19 world is going to be a very different place and they need to evolve with it.

"Universal's move is completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency", Cineworld says.

"It is disappointing to us, but Jeff's comments as to Universal's unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice".

"This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat".

Trolls World Tour's on-demand success comes at a particularly scary time for movie theaters.

John Fithian, chief executive of the National Association of Theatre Owners, accused the film company of using the pandemic to alter the existing release structure.

Despite its woes, a world where the fantastical action and drama of Dom Toretto's (Vin Diesel) crew and family never grace the big screen seems incomprehensible.

With box office revenues plunging to zero nearly overnight, the publicly traded theater chains - including AMC - are facing liquidity crises and possible bankruptcies.

"Cineworld's policy with respect to the window is clear, well known in the industry and is part of our commercial deal with our movie suppliers", the company said in a statement carried by Deadline.

Universal also stated, "We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to confuse our position and our actions".

Cinemas have traditionally enjoyed being at the top of the pecking order for newly released films, with a three-month exclusivity period before they are released on other platforms such as pay-TV and DVD, in a strategy to maximise the value of every movie.

They're saying their goal "was to deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home, while movie theatres and other forms of outside entertainment are unavailable", in a statement. Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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