US film studio Universal Pictures and cinema chain AMC Theatres have set aside their feud and reached a multi-year deal to bring feature releases to home PVOD services in under three weeks of their theatrical premieres.
The deal shortens the amount of time Universal movies must show in AMC cinemas before heading to premium streamers to just 17 days.
Movies usually have to wait 75 to 90 days before receiving a home release. If other studios and cinema chains follow suit it could lead to a dramatic shake-up of the way feature releases are consumed.
The cinema industry has been hard hit by the pandemic, with Covid-19 pushing new movies onto home streaming services faster than ever before as the industry battles to turn a profit.
The companies were previously at loggerheads over the issue, with AMC banning all Universal-produced movies from their cinemas earlier this year. This came after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell suggested that the successful launch of the movie Trolls World Tour on both VOD and at cinemas, would see further such simultaneous releases.
At the time, AMC’s chair-CEO Adam Aron called the comments “unacceptable” and instigated the immediate ban.
In an apparent about-turn, Aron commented on the agreement, saying that AMC “enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies.”
Universal said that the companies reached this agreement “based on their shared commitment to a mutually beneficial long-term partnership that is focused on serving consumers worldwide, while preserving and enhancing the theatrical experience.”