Premium VOD Window Talks Hit an Impasse, Says AMC Entertainment CFO

Craig Ramsey

"After 14, 16 months of talking, I don't see movement towards a solution," Craig Ramsey told investors on Wednesday.

Negotiations between the major studios and domestic exhibitors have hit an impasse in an attempt to create a premium VOD window for consumers, according to AMC Entertainment CFO Craig Ramsey.

Studios and theater owners are having ongoing discussions about shortening theatrical windows, the amount of time films play exclusively in theaters before they are made available for home viewing. "After 14, 16 months of talking, I don't see movement towards a solution," the exec on Wednesday told the B. Riley Institutional Investors Conference during a session that was webcast.

Ramsey told market watchers there was no consensus among the major studios on how to offer new releases to home viewers during the 90-day period when exhibitors have traditionally had exclusivity. "What I'm not seeing in the PVOD discussions is coalescing around an industry solution. ... Not even all the studios are convinced it's the right thing," he said.

While maintaining support for current 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.

Ramsey said the current negotiations with the major studios include possible compensation for circuits if their 90-day window is cannibalized. He recalled earlier talks between the studios and chains over introducing digital projection and transmission similarly faced a log-jam, but one that ended in part with the intervention of an independent third party. 

The exec stopped short of welcoming an independent third party to referee the current premium VOD talks. "I don't know that there's an interloper that can step in and get the situation resolved. I kind of doubt it," said Ramsey, who instead urged both sides to hammer out their own agreement.