The gloves are off and it looks to be a no-holds-barred slobberknocker between Hollywood’s biggest movie exhibition heavyweights.
Yesterday we reported the historic deal in which AMC Theatres agreed to reduce Universal Pictures and Focus Features’ theatrical window exclusivity from 90 days to just 17. In return, AMC will receive revenue sharing from Universal and Focus’ premium video on-demand proceeds. After months of posturing, the deal was hammered out in good faith, with both sides hoping to more effectively tailor their profit streams.
Now the world’s second largest cinema chain, Cineworld, owner of Regal Cinemas, has weighed in on the deal. It ain’t pretty. “We do not see any business sense in this model,” CEO Mooky Greidinger explained to Deadline. Greidinger is on record as a staunch defender of the traditional theatrical window. Back in April, he stood in solidarity alongside AMC, echoing their sentiments in stating that “We make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.”
Despite the AMC-Universal deal being agreed upon because both sides feel it makes economic sense to do so, Greidinger is holding firm.
“While we don’t know the full details and we are always analyzing any move in the industry, we will analyze it. People need to be aware that the first big movie from Universal is coming only in six months so there is no pressure here,” said Greidinger. “But we clearly see this as a wrong move at the wrong time. Clearly we are not changing our policy with regards to showing only movies that are respecting the theatrical window.”
Cinemark, the third biggest movie exhibitor, has yet to make an official statement about the matter. However, the Texas-based chain may be more willing than Cineworld to strike a deal similar to the one AMC and Universal have in the works. In June, Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi mentioned on an earnings call “We’re open to talking with studio partners about alternatives we can consider.”
Will other movie distributors want the same deal Universal and Focus Features got from AMC? Yes. Will other movie exhibitors refuse to follow suit, instead waiting to see how that particular deal pans out? Also yes. So for the foreseeable future, the film industry will be left with a jumble of different agreements between a bunch of different distributors and exhibitors until the whole systems settles into some sort of stasis. Welcome to the new era of à la carte movie distribution.