AMC Entertainment CFO Says Exhibitor "Not Engaged" in Premium VOD Window Talks

AMC Theater - H - 2016

Craig Ramsey told an investors conference negotiations with major studios on shortening theatrical windows for popular movies have "lost momentum."

AMC Entertainment has stepped away from talks with Hollywood studios on creating a premium VOD window for popular movies.

"There's less and less conversation about that. We're not actively engaged in conversations for several different reasons. It's not the topic that it was earlier," AMC CFO Craig Ramsey on Tuesday told the Citi Global TMT West Conference in Las Vegas during a session that was webcast.

AMC has been a reluctant supporter of plans by the movie business to create a premium VOD window for popular titles on the expectation that the major studios could agree to terms with domestic exhibitors on shortening theatrical windows and allowing earlier home viewing of films.

While maintaining support for earlier talks with the major studios on their premium VOD plans, AMC execs during recent analyst calls and conference presentations have highlighted possible threats to the exhibition industry from day-and-date VOD releases and home entertainment during their traditional first window.

"The whole PVOD is a very complicated matter. ... There's no consensus around it at this point in time. That's why it has lost momentum," Ramsey said of talks between the major studios and exhibitors on hammering out a PVOD model to get the movie industry to move ahead.

AMC Theatres, majority-owned by the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, is now the largest exhibitor in the U.S., Europe and the world, operating 900 venues with more than 10,000 screens globally.

Ramsey was also asked about the possible impact on his circuit by the recently announced deal for Walt Disney to acquire the bulk of Fox’s entertainment assets. He saw pluses and minuses from the blockbuster acquisition.

"They [Disney] are a marketing machine — not that Fox isn't. Maybe there's more gross that comes out for the titles," Ramsey said. He added the risk was if Disney shutters Fox Searchlight. "I don't know what their decision will be, or if the slate comes over and is reduced in number," Ramsey said.