AMC Theatres CEO Blasts NATO Head for Attacking James Murdoch (Exclusive)

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Adam Aron, John Fithian

AMC president/CEO Adam Aron calls a statement by National Association of Theater Owners chief John Fithian "condescending and gratuitous in its affronts aimed at the CEO of 21st Century Fox."

In an unusual break from tradition, AMC Theatres president and CEO Adam Aron is blasting his own trade organization for comments made about 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch.

Earlier this week, National Association of Theater Owners president John Fithian took Murdoch to task after Murdoch suggested during an investor's conference that theatrical windows imposed by cinema owners can be "crazy" in terms of a movie's delay in being available for home viewing. AMC, along with thousands of other theater circuits, is a NATO member.

"Fox and its distribution team have long been and continue to be trusted and valued partners for exhibitors. Mr. Murdoch should be careful he doesn't undermine that trust," Fithian said in a statement sent to Deadline. "Welcome to the movie industry Mr. Murdoch. We hope you’ll take some time to learn how it works."

Aron says NATO's words to Murdoch were "condescending and gratuitous" and that AMC is disassociating itself from the NATO statement, which it didn't know about prior to its release.

"The unnecessary tone of NATO's response is not consistent with AMC's view about how business should be conducted. In the clearest possible language, all of us at AMC have nothing but the most profound respect and appreciation for all that James Murdoch, members of his family and his colleagues at Fox have done over decades to delight moviegoers the world over. May our partnership continue in this spirit for decades to come," Aron said.

Below is Aron's own statement in full.
 
The theatrical window is a longstanding industry practice that has benefited studios, theaters and moviegoers. We all should tread lightly and be mindful that over the years, the film industry's success is a direct result of a highly successful collaboration between film makers, distributors and exhibitors. Change should be taken only wisely. Even so, carefully considered reform is always worth evaluating in any number of areas. Accordingly, AMC is willing to work with Fox and our other studio partners to intelligently do what we can to help improve studio profitability and ensure that filmmakers continue to have the freedom to captivate moviegoers, all the while ensuring that the enormous investment by theater operators can continue to be prudently made and rewarded. This approach benefits studios, exhibitors and most importantly movie fans who delight in watching film as it was meant to be seen -- on the big screen. Our aim is clear: Theaters across the continent continue to be superb guest-pleasing vehicles that incomparably showcase movie-making magic.
 
We wish NATO had said only that in its statement, which we saw only after its public issuance. Instead, however, NATO's statement was condescending and gratuitous in its affronts aimed at the CEO of 21st Century Fox. The unnecessary tone of NATO's response is not consistent with AMC's view about how business should be conducted. In the clearest possible language, all of us at AMC have nothing but the most profound respect and appreciation for all that James Murdoch, members of his family and his colleagues at Fox have done over decades to delight moviegoers the world over. May our partnership continue in this spirit for decades to come.

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