AMC Theatres has agreed to show Universal movies again, and they can be available On Demand 17 days later (Jason Guerrasio)
Trolls World Tour 2 DreamWorks Animation
"Trolls World Tour."

DreamWorks Animation

  • AMC Theatres and Universal announced on Tuesday in a joint statement that movies from the studio will play in the chain once more going forward.

  • This ends the block by AMC, the world's biggest theater chain, from playing Universal titles following "Trolls World Tour" skipping a theatrical release and going straight to Premium Video On Demand (PVOD).

  • Going forward, Universal releases only have to play at AMC locations for at least three weekends (17 days) and then can be available on PVOD, including AMC Theatres On Demand.

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Well, that was quick.

Exactly three months to the day that AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron shook Hollywood by announcing in an open letter to the head of Universal Studios, Donna Langley, that going forward "AMC will not license any Universal movies in any of our 1,000 theaters globally," the two have found a common ground.

On Tuesday, Universal and AMC, the largest theater chain in the world, announced in a joint statement that it has agreed to a multi-year agreement in which Universal and Focus Features titles will once more be shown at AMC's locations in the US (an international agreement is being negotiated).

But in a move that will certainly reverberate within the industry, the two parties have agreed that titles only have to play theatrically for at least three weekends (17 days). Following that, Universal would be allowed to make the titles available on Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) platforms, including the theater's own, AMC Theatres On Demand.

Currently, major movie chains have shown only movies that are played exclusively for at least 72 days before appearing on home video or streaming. The changing of the theatrical window model by two of the biggest titans in Hollywood will certainly cause the window to change across the board.

All other ancillary platform deals, like standard video on demand and electronic sell-through, will remain unchanged.

We got to this point because of Universal's dramatic change in its release strategy due to the coronavirus pandemic. As theaters began to close up, Universal decided to release "Trolls World Tour" as a Premium On Demand release in March, making it the first movie ever from a major studio to skip a theatrical release and be made available digitally (since then, Universal/Focus titles like "The King of Staten Island," "You Should Have Left," and "The High Note" have been released straight to PVOD).

trolls world tour universal
"Trolls World Tour."


Though many in the movie theater world were upset behind the scenes, the anger boiled over when in a Wall Street Journal story in late April it was revealed that "Trolls World Tour" earned $100 million in revenue to date and NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said in the story: "The results for 'Trolls World Tour' have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats."

Soon after, Aron released his letter announcing his ban on Universal titles from AMC.

So what changed things?

"AMC enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies," Aron said in Tuesday's release.

Many in Hollywood felt that the two would make up sooner than later. With Universal not planning to release a big title in theaters for months (one of Universal's biggest, "F9," from the "Fast and Furious" franchise, doesn't come out until next April), there was a lot of time to iron things out.

"I think you have to take a big-picture view, and right now there's a lot of tension and a lot of pressure — at the highest level, health and safety, and at another level survival — so I think tempers are a little on edge right now," Imax CEO Richard Gelfond told Insider a few days after Aron's open letter. "I believe once cinemas reopen and things get back to normal calmer heads will prevail and there will be a way out of this."

Turns out it was even quicker than that, though none of the major theaters will reopen until late August.

Going forward, along with a new "Fast and Furious" movie in 2021, Universal also has on tap "Jurassic World: Dominion" and "Minions: The Rise of Gru."

Read the original article on Insider