The agreement follows a turbulent relationship between Universal and AMC Theatres, triggered by issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Universal and AMC Theatres cinema chain have announced a multi-year agreement in which films released under the Universal Pictures and Focus Features banners will be shown in AMC Theatres across the United States with a 17-day theatrical window. Up until now the theatrical window has lasted 90 days, and the new agreement means films released by Universal Pictures and Focus Features can play in AMC Theatres for three weekends before hitting premium video on demand platforms (PVOD), including AMC Theatres On Demand. Discussions between the two parties around international distribution agreements are to follow.
“The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business,” commented Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman, Donna Langley. “The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”
Peter Levinsohn, Universal vice chairman and chief distribution officer, added, “Universal’s commitment to innovation in how we deliver content to audiences is what our artists, partners and shareholders all expect of us, and we are excited about the opportunity this new structure presents to grow our business. We are grateful to AMC for their partnership and the leadership they have shown in working with us to reach this historic deal.”
The agreement follows disagreement between Universal and AMC Theatres. AMC announced in April that it was putting a ban on Universal Pictures titles after the studio released Trolls World Tour directly to PVOD platforms, instead of cinemas. The studio also broke the 90-day theatrical window to make other new titles such as The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma available on PVOD platforms after their theatrical releases were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
The relationship between Universal and AMC was put under furtehr strain when NBCUniversal film chief Jeff Shell announced that the studio was planning to continue releasing certain titles on PVOD platforms even after cinemas started to reopen,saying: “The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theatres reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”
The new agreement is certainly a step forward in uniting both parties, although the full terms of the deal are confidential and are not being disclosed.