Odeon Cinemas Owner Bans Universal Films Over Trolls Home Release

Well, apparently, according to The Hollywood Reporter, AMC has made a decision to go ahead and ban all future Universal films from their theaters after NBCUniversal CEO's recent comments about releasing films straight to VOD following the success of Trolls: World Tour. While Shell did not lay out Universal's strategy for release windows concerning VOD and cinema, the comments sparked an immediate backlash from AMC, with the theater chain's chair-CEO Adam Aron calling them "unacceptable".

The execs opted to make the movie available as a digital rental on platforms like Apple TV, Google Play and Amazon Prime Video for $19.99. Even so, this is where we are, in a world where the success of Trolls World Tour made AMC pictures declare they won't show any Universal movies.

Universal bounced back, saying, "Our goal in releasing Trolls World Tour was to deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home, while movie theatres and other forms of outside entertainment are unavailable".

AMC Theaters is the most significant film chain inside the United States, and dropping get right of passage to its performance centers is an overwhelming blow for Universal's biggest up and coming motion pictures, including F9. It made $100 million in its first three weeks in the USA alone - more than the original Trolls movie did in cinemas. To achieve that same amount of revenue during a theatrical run would have required box office sales to hit $154 million, which is what the original "Trolls" movie grossed.

Trolls World Tour is one of many studio titles - in particular, family films - to recently skip the traditional "theatrical window" due to coronavirus.

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Though he said: "Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo". Universal Pictures would become the first major studio to not only push certain already released movies such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt to digital video-on-demand release early, but they would take the unprecedented step of announcing that the upcoming Trolls: World Tour would get a simultaneous digital and theatrical release.

As innocuous as the rainbow-colored, music-blaring animated movie may seem, the digital release into homes of "Trolls World Tour" has caused a tempestuous storm to course through the movie industry.

Aron said AMC would do the same to any distributor that "unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us".

The studio also accused AMC Theatres and the National Association of Theatre Owners of a "seemingly coordinated attempt" to "confuse our position and our actions". Or, this could be the beginning of an outright war as other studios have deiced to release films straight to VOD as well. The studio says it believes in the theatrical experience but wants to release future films on-demand when it makes sense. Perhaps his threat to Universal serves as a warning to other studies?

  • Michelle Webb