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World's largest cinema chain bans Universal movies after 'Trolls' VOD dispute

29 Apr 2020 | Rasmus Larsen |

As a consequence of Universal's plans to release more movies simultaneously online and in theaters, the world's largest cinema chain, AMC, will "no longer play any Universal movies", reports Hollywood Reporter.

AMC puts up a fight

AMC, the world's largest cinema chain, said that effective immediately it will no longer play any Universal movies in any of its theaters. - "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," wrote Adam Aron, CEO and chairman of AMC. The decision comes after Universal announced that "as soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats", partly because Trolls World Tour has "exceeded expectations" and "demonstrated the viability of premium VOD" at home. Universal has upcoming movies such Minion: The Rise of Gru, Fast & Furious 9, Candyman, The Croods 2 and Jurassic World: Dominion planned.

Jurassic World Universal has 'Jurassic World: Dominion' planned for 2021

Threats ring hollow

AMC stressed that the ban applies to "any and all Universal movies" and added that its threats extends to all studios who challenge "the status quo". However, AMC's threats ring hollow after a couple of dramatic days and weeks where WarnerMedia has said that "we're rethinking our theatrical model" and announced plans to make Scoob, the upcoming Scooby-Doo movie, available as premium VOD. The animated movie was originally planned for theatrical release. Disney has announced that Artemis Fowl will move from theaters to Disney+, and that "more might follow". At the same time, AMC is struggling to stay afloat and analysts have warned that the company looks increasingly likely to file for bankruptcy. Earlier this month AMC initiated a process to raise 500 million dollars in new debt, with a high 10.5% annual interest rate. In response to the ban Universal said that it is "disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO", the latter being The National Association of Theatre Owners. - Source: Hollywood Reporter (2), Variety, Universal

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