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Odeon Cinemas Will Not Show Universal Pictures After Row Over Theatrical Releases

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Odeon Cinemas Will Not Show Universal Pictures After Row Over Theatrical Releases

AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain and the owners of Odeon Cinemas in the UK, has announced that it will no longer show Universal Pictures films in an argument over theatrical releases.

Because all cinemas have been closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, some studios have been releasing films that otherwise would have seen a theatrical release online and on-demand.

After NBCUniversal's boss Jeff Shell remarked on the success of the video on-demand release of Trolls World Tour earlier this month, during which it earned $100m (£80m), he added that the company might choose to release films simultaneously on video on-demand as well as in theatres.

This prompted a response from Adam Aron, the boss of cinema chain AMC, who said that the company wanted to 'have its cake and eat it too', and added that his theatres will no longer show Universal Pictures films when the theatres re-open.

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AMC Theatres owns Odeon in the UK. Credit: PA
AMC Theatres owns Odeon in the UK. Credit: PA

Universal is known for popular franchises such as Fast & Furious and Jurassic World, amongst many others.

Aron wrote a letter to Universal Studios chairwoman Donna Langley in which he said: "It is disappointing to us, but Jeff's comments as to Universal's unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice.

"Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East."

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The letter continued: "We want to be absolutely clear, so that there is no ambiguity of any kind.

"AMC believes that with this proposed action to go to the home and theatres simultaneously, Universal is breaking the business model and dealings between our two companies.

"It assumes that we will meekly accept a reshaped view of how studios and exhibitors should interact, with zero concern on Universal's part as to how its actions affect us.

"It also presumes that Universal in fact can have its cake and eat it too, that Universal film product can be released to the home and theatres at the same time, without modification to the current economic arrangements between us."

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Universal Pictures owns, amongst others, Jurassic World. Credit: Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures owns, amongst others, Jurassic World. Credit: Universal Pictures

He went on to say that this is 'not some hollow or ill-considered threat' and will come into force as soon as the theatres are able to take customers again.

Universal responded quickly with a statement in which they said: "We absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and have made no statement to the contrary.

"As we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theaters, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense.

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"We look forward to having additional private conversations with our exhibition partners but are disappointed by this seemingly coordinated attempt from AMC and NATO to confuse our position and our actions,

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

"Based on the enthusiastic response to the film, we believe we made the right move."

LADbible has contacted AMC Theatres for comment.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: TV and Film, UK Entertainment, US Entertainment

Tom Wood
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