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Regal Cinemas joins with AMC in fight against Universal Studios after ‘Trolls World Tour’ controversy

Will Regal Cinemas show Universal films?

(from left) Legsly (Ester Dean), Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar), Tiny Diamond (Kenan Thompson), Smidge (Walt Dohrn), Biggie (James Corden), Mr. Dinkles (Kevin Michael Richardson), Satin (Aino Jawo) and Chenille (Caroline Hjelt) in DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour, directed by Walt Dohrn.
Legsly (voice of Ester Dean, left), Guy Diamond (voice of Kunal Nayyar), Tiny Diamond (voice of Kenan Thompson), Smidge (voice of Walt Dohrn), Biggie (voice of James Corden), Mr. Dinkles (voice of Kevin Michael Richardson), Satin voice of (Aino Jawo) and Chenille (voice of Caroline Hjelt) in DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls World Tour.”
Universal Studios

Regal Cinemas has sided with AMC Theatres in the ongoing battle with Universal Studios, saying the cinema chain will not show any film that “fail to respect” theater releases.

What’s new:

  • Regal Cinemas owner Cineworld said it will not show any Universal film that fails to respect the theatrical release window, according to TheWrap.
  • The announcement comes after Universal decided to release “Trolls World Tour” to a digitally exclusive release. Universal celebrated the success of the film, saying it was one of the biggest digital releases for the studio.
  • Cineworld released a statement about the decision, which was obtained by TheWrap:

“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. We invest heavily in our cinemas across the globe and this allows the movie studios to provide customers all around the world to watch the movies in the best experience. There is no argument that the big screen is the best way to watch a movie.

“Universal unilaterally chose to break our understanding and did so at the height of the Covid-19 crisis when our business is closed, more than 35,000 employees are at home and when we do not yet have a clear date for the reopening of our cinemas.”

The setup:

  • NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell told the Wall Street Journal Universal is considering releasing new movies in theaters and digital exclusive platforms moving forward.
  • Shell said: “The results for ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD.”

AMC Theatres responded quickly, telling Universal it would not show any Universal film in theaters. AMC Theaters chairman-CEO Adam Aron called the decision “unacceptable,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

  • Aron wrote: “It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East.”
  • Aron wrote: “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. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes.”

Universal responded to AMC’s decision.

  • ”We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary. As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theaters, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense. We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition parters but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our positions and our actions.”

The National Association of Theater Owners slammed Universal as well.

  • NATO said: “Universal has a destructive tendency to both announce decisions affecting their exhibitor partners without actually consulting with those partners, and now of making unfounded accusations without consulting with their partners.”

But it’s not just Universal

  • Universal isn’t the only studio to move films to a digital release because of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, Warner Bros. decided to move the release of “Scoob” to digital only because of the pandemic. The film will be released on HBO Max. Similarly, Disney Plus announced it would release its film “Artemis Fowl” on Disney Plus in June.