AMC Theatres Pledges to Stay Open, Touts PVOD Pact With Universal

AMC Empire in New York City 3 —Publicity - H  2020
Courtesy of Peter McClintock

The news came a day after rival Cineworld said it is closing all of its U.S. and U.K. locations amid the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

AMC Theatres said Tuesday it is not currently planning to close any of its movie theaters that have reopened, in part because of the leeway provided by an unprecedented premium VOD deal it recently signed with Universal.

The announcement came a day after rival Cineworld said it is going to shut all of its cinemas in the U.K. and U.S., where it operates the Regal Cinemas banner, because of a lack of Hollywood event pics. Late last week, James Bond pic No Time to Die became the latest tentpole to vacate the October and November corridor amid the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.

AMC is the world's largest movie theater circuit, followed by Cineworld, and operates theaters across the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

In a statement, AMC chairman-CEO Adam Aron said there are plenty of films to play in the weeks to come, including the Robert De Niro comedy The War With Grandpa, which 101 Studios opens Friday.

Aron also referenced the Universal pact, which collapses the traditional theatrical window by allowing the film studio to make some of its movies available on PVOD just 17 days after they debut on the big screen. In exchange, AMC will share in the revenue. Most movie circuits won't play a title that debuts early in the home.

Universal's upcoming releases are the body-swap comedy Freaky (Nov. 3) and  The Croods: A  New Age (Nov. 25). Per the terms of the arrangement, Universal isn't allowed to say beforehand which titles will go to PVOD early.

“Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theaters when others may feel the need to close," Aron said.

"We are fully comfortable showing Universal films in our theaters, even as they implement premium video on demand as we have mutually agreed. This is because AMC will share in premium revenues coming from their early availability in the home," he continued.

Roughly 80 percent of AMC's theaters are reopened in the U.S.

Cinemark, the third-largest exhibitor in the U.S., likewise responded to the Cineworld news by saying it won't be shutting down again.