Cinemas at war with Universal about streaming

Les salles de cinéma en guerre avec Universal à propos du streaming

AMC, the largest chain of cinemas in North America with 8,000 screens, is at war with Universal.

28 April 2020, 15h35

Updated at 22h46


Cinemas at war with Universal about the streaming


LOS ANGELES — The commercial success of the cartoon Trolls 2 in streaming has soured relations between the Universal and the number one of the cinemas in the United States, which announced that it would refuse now to project in its halls the films produced by the hollywood studio.

Due to the confinement caused by the coronavirus, the cartoon Trolls 2 – world Tour has been released directly on the platforms of streaming, such as Apple TV, for the lump sum of 19.99 dollars.

This decision had at the time been presented by Universal as an exception justified by the pandemic, which led to the closure of cinemas.

But the Wall Street Journal revealed on Tuesday that the film had collected the enormous sum of $ 95 million in North America over the past three weeks. And thanks to this unexpected success, the boss of Universal told the newspaper that the studios would release their movies in both formats”, both in the rooms and on the platforms of video on demand, even after the health crisis.

AMC, the largest chain of cinemas in North America with 8,000 screens, took these remarks as a declaration of war. She wrote to Universal to warn that it “does not blow any more film at Universal, in cinemas of the United States, Europe, or the Middle East”, a decision with immediate effect.

“CMA believes that, in considering broadcast simultaneously on VOD and in theaters, Universal will break the economic model and the agreements between our two companies,” writes the ceo of the AMC, Adam Aron, in the letter reproduced by many media specialists.

Before the pandemic, the us studios usually wait 90 days after release to distribute their works in any digital format.

Last year, the cinemas have earned record profits, in the amount of 42.5 billion dollars, thanks in particular to a series of big productions Disney. But the bulk of their growth is outside of North America and the cinema operators see it as a long-standing evil eye, the enthusiasm of the spectators for the services of streaming.

The cinema operators are alarmed at the success of Troll 2 on video on demand, arguing that this exceptional performance was the result of the confinement, which prevents hundreds of millions of spectators go to the cinema.

“Universal is not entitled to use these unusual circumstances to short-circuit the real theatrical releases,” said John Fithian, head of the american association of cinema operators.

In addition to Troll 2, many movies are released on the internet directly, or with a shortened time frame, due to the closure of the theatres in many countries.

This will be the case for Scooby! Warner Bros next month, as the movie Artemis Fowl that will go directly on the platform of Disney+. The Paramount studios will broadcast the film The Lovebirds directly on Netflix without first taking in the rooms.


In addition, the cinemas of Georgia have been réautorisés to welcome the public Monday, and Texas will follow in four days, but none of the big networks of cinemas does enjoy it before the summer.

The new operating rules in Georgia require movie theaters to space each group of spectators at least two meters, and to clean the chairs between each session.

In Texas, governor Greg Abbott has set at 25 % of the gauge the maximum capacity of each hall.

During a presentation to investors in mid-April, the third network meeting in the United States, Cinemark, had indicated that its fill rate average ordinary time ranged between 20 % and 30 %.

“So we operate very cost-effectively, while respecting the obligations in the field of social distancing”, had written the operator in his presentation.

But during the same presentation, the general manager, Mark Zoradi, said Cinemark was a reopening towards the end of July.

It is for the network to ensure that the prevention measures against the spread of the virus are in place, but also wait for the release of a film to big budget, to encourage the public to return.

The cinema chain has set its sights on the new film by director Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk, The dark knight, Origin), Tenet, the output of which in the United States and Canada is scheduled for July 17.

She also relies on the arrival, as soon as the following weekend (July 24), from Mulan, the version that is in the live action of the animated film of Disney.

AMC plans to re-open its rooms “a few weeks before [the release of] these new blockbusters”, but “directly ahead,” he said Friday.

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