Only in the crazy world we live in today could Trolls World Tour be the impetus for so much controversy. Following the $100M success of the animated sequel and Universal’s boastful claims about doing more straight-to-digital releases as a result, AMC outright banned their movies. And now we know they won’t be standing alone in this bold, if perhaps foolhardy, stance, because Regal Cinemas owner Cineworld has joined in the fight.
In a statement issued to Deadline, Cineworld has made a full-throated stand against Universal if they fail to respect the theatrical release window. Here are portions of that statement…
Cineworld’s policy with respect to the window is clear, well known in the industry and is part of our commercial deal with our movie suppliers. We invest heavily in our cinemas across the globe and this allows the movie studios to provide customers all around the world to watch the movies in the best experience. There is no argument that the big screen is the best way to watch a movie.
Universal unilaterally chose to break our understanding and did so at the height of the Covid-19 crisis when our business is closed, more than 35,000 employees are at home and when we do not yet have a clear date for the reopening of our cinemas.
Universal’s move is completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency.
Today we make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.
We have full confidence in the industry’s current business model. No one should forget that the theatrical side of this industry generated an all-time record income of $42 billion last year and the movie distributors’ share of this was about $20 billion.
It’s not surprising that Regal, the second-largest theater chain in the U.S., would join in the condemnation of Universal. As a means of applying pressure, this is about the strongest move they can make to force Universal’s hand. At the same time, one has to wonder how long this can last. Do they really want to miss out on the potentially $1B in box office generated by the Fast & Furious or Jurassic World franchises, both of which Universal will be releasing in the next year? Doubtful.