Speed Reads

universal v. theaters

Trolls war update: Regal Cinemas says it isn't joining AMC in boycotting Universal

Universal Pictures movies may be banned from AMC Theaters, but it looks like they'll still have a home with Regal — under one condition.

AMC Theaters earlier this week made the stunning announcement that it's banning all movies by Universal Pictures from playing at their locations. With theaters closed during the coronavirus pandemic, Universal had released Trolls World Tour on premium video on demand rather than waiting for theaters to widely reopen, and on Tuesday, NBCUniversal chief Jeff Shell touted Trolls as a major success. But he also suggested the at-home release Trolls received might be repeated for other movies even when theaters are back up and running, telling The Wall Street Journal, "As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats."

This touched a nerve with AMC, which like other theater chains traditionally require movies they play to be exclusive to them and not appear for viewing at home for about three months. AMC CEO Adam Aron announced the chain would boycott all Universal movies, but would other theater chains take part in this ban as well?

Regal Cinemas isn't thus far, clarifying on Twitter Thursday that it "is not boycotting Universal nor any other studio." Instead, the company said it will continue to play movies that "respect the theatrical window," indicating it would show Universal films as long as they don't debut on video on demand services prior to the end of this typical 90-day window.

Still, the theater chain certainly isn't thrilled with Universal, as Regal owner Cineworld on Wednesday called the studio's actions "completely inappropriate." In an investor's call on Thursday, Shell said he doesn't see premium video on demand as a "replacement" for movie theaters, but added, "it's gonna be a complementary element and we're just gonna have to see how long that takes and where that takes us."