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Leawood-based AMC Entertainment won't show Universal films after dispute

Simultaneous at-home, theater release brings heat
AMC Theatres reducing theater capacity nationwide amid coronavirus emergency
Posted at 11:15 AM, Apr 29, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Leawood-based AMC Entertainment says it will not license Universal Pictures movies in any of its theaters after the studio announced a change in its business model.

According to a release from AMC CEO and President Adam Aron, the dispute began when Universal said it would execute a direct-to-home release for “Trolls World Tour,” since theaters are closed and the studio had a lucrative toy deal in the balance.

AMC said that it understood the move “in these unprecedented times” despite the two companies’ “longstanding business practices.”

However, citing a quote from NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell in the Wall Street Journal in which he said the “Trolls World Tour” performance exceeded expectations and “as soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats,” AMC said it will no longer license any of the studio’s films in its theaters worldwide.

AMC called Universal’s move to simultaneous at-home and theater release a “radical change” and said it “represents nothing but downside for us and is categorically unacceptable.”

The change goes into effect immediately and as theaters reopen, AMC said in its release.

AMC said its decision “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.”

AMC executives would be willing to sit down with Universal to discuss strategies and models, the company said, “but in the absence of such discussions… our decades of incredibly successful business activity together has sadly come to an end.”