AMC Theatres Has No Universal Movies Slated for Release

AMC Theatres is sticking to its guns, boycotting all new-release feature films from Universal Pictures. The world’s largest exhibitor June 9 revealed it remains in discussions with the studio regarding the latter’s plan to launch movies in theaters concurrent with premium VOD in the home.

“While we are in active dialogue with Universal, no movies made by Universal Studios are currently on our docket,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

AMC and Universal had a falling out after the studio’s PVOD release of Trolls World Tour generated an impressive $100 million in PVOD revenue in three weeks, resulting in studio boss Jeff Shell announcing all future theatrical titles would include concurrent digital retail distribution if possible.

Aron responded that AMC would boycott all future Universal and other studio titles earmarked for digital/theatrical distribution.

As previously disclosed, AMC formally revealed it lost $2.17 billion for the fiscal first quarter ended March 31. The exhibitor lost $130 million during the previous-year period. Revenue was $941.5 million, down 21.6% from revenue of $1.2 billion in the year-ago period.

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Leawood, Kansas-based AMC saw the wheels come off its business in mid-March when the movie theater industry worldwide essentially shut down due to the spread of the coronavirus. Indeed, Q1 revenue was up 10% through February compared with a year ago.

“In mid-March we were forced to pivot the entire company to respond to the effects of the pandemic,” CEO Adam Aron said in a statement.

Indeed, attendance in the quarter plummeted 24.2% to 60.4 million from 79.8 million in the previous-year period.

The CEO, who along with 600 other executives, was furloughed to cut costs, said the exhibitor strengthened its liquidity by working with landlords and studio partners to defer or abate theatre and film rents, respectively, as well as raising an additional $500 million of public market debt.

AMC’s Odeon Cinema unit in Europe just re-opened select screens in Oslo, Norway. In the U.S., the states of Georgia, Texas and California have greenlighted phased re-opening of select businesses, including movie theaters.

To that end, AMC has reopened 10 theaters in Norway, Germany, Spain and Portugal, and currently expects to be fully open globally in July. The company is planning to reopen almost all U.S. and U.K. theaters in July, to be positioned to showcase Warner Bros’ release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet now slated for release July 17, followed by Disney’s Mulan now slated for release July 24.

Other pending titles include Unhinged, Saint Maud, Antebellum, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Wonder Woman 1984, A Quiet Place Part II, The King’s Man, Black Widow, Soul, Dune, West Side Story and Top Gun: Maverick, among others.

“We are confident we are taking the necessary steps on a broad array of fronts to ensure AMC’s future success as we navigate these turbulent and uncertain times,” Aron said.

Regardless, AMC also disclosed that without a return to box office normality in the near future, it could face bankruptcy.

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