AMC Theatres has spoken out against Universal Pictures over NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell’s comments regarding debuting movies both in theaters and on PVOD. Universal released Trolls World Tour on April 10 on PVOD due to movie theater closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shell spoke to The Wall Street Journal about the success of Trolls World Tour. “The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the numbers. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
In a letter addressed to Universal Studios Chairman Donna Langley, AMC’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron expressed the company’s disappointment over Shell’s comments.
“Universal stated it only pursued a direct-to-home entertainment release for “Trolls World Tour” because theaters were closed and Universal was committed to a lucrative toy licensing deal. We had our doubts that this was wholly Universal’s motivations, as it has been a longstanding desire by Universal to go to the home day and date. Nonetheless, we accepted this action as an exception to our longstanding business practices in these unprecedented times.,” Aron said, “Accordingly, we want to be absolutely clear so that there is no ambiguity of any kind. AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies.”
Due to Shell’s comments, AMC will not license any Universal movies in their 1,000 theatres globally. Universal has responded to AMC stating that they still believe in the theatrical experience and their comments in The Wall Street Journal were not supposed to be taken as such. Universal’s statement also mentioned they will be having private conversations with AMC and NATO, who have also spoken against Universal.