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AMC, the world’s largest theater chain, is criticizing Warner Bros.’ newly unveiled plan to send its 2021 feature films — which include the Suicide Squad sequel, Dune and the fourth Matrix movie — to the studio’s streaming service, HBO Max, on the same day the titles release in theaters.
“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max startup,” said Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC Entertainment, in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
The move will see the studio’s 17-film slate hit HBO Max for a one-month window that starts the same day the titles will be available in theaters in the U.S. The move comes after the studio had already revealed plans to release Wonder Woman 1984 day-and-date on Christmas Day, a plan that AMC says it was notified about.
“These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height,” read a statement from the exhibitor, which added, “However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover.”
CEO Aron added that the company has already started an “immediate and urgent dialogue” with the studio. AMC, which announced today that it would be selling 200 million shares in the hope of improving its liquidity, has seen its stock fall some 16 percent by Thursday afternoon.
Aron concluded, “As this issue gets sorted out, we are nonetheless encouraged that vaccines protecting society at large against the coronavirus are very much at hand. So, it is our expectation that moviegoers soon will be able once again to delight in coming to our theatres without any worry — viewing the world’s best movies safely in our big seats, with our big sound and on our big screens.”
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