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Chinese Owned AMC Theaters Bans Universal Pictures Films After CEO Endorses VOD Releases

AMC Theaters announced that they would be banning all films from Universal Pictures in all of their worldwide locations following comments from NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell

A Chinese owned company banning someone for wrongthink, a play right out of the communist Chinese playbook.

Tuesday night, AMC Theaters announced that they would be banning all films from Universal Pictures in all of their worldwide locations following comments from NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell which stated the studio would be looking at releasing films in both theaters and VOD formats.

According to The Hollywood Reporter Universal revealed that Trolls World Tour racked up an estimated $100 million in premium VOD rentals in its first three weeks of play in North America, more than enough to put the film on the road to profitability, according to the conglomerate.

Shell commented on the success of the film by stating the VOD format could be a game changer for the studio.

“The results for Trolls World Tour have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

Shell’s comments upset the world largest theater chain so much that have announced they will not be playing any films from Universal when they decide to reopen.

AMC Theatres chair-CEO Adam Aron spoke about Shell’s comments:

“It is disappointing to us, but Jeff’s comments as to Universal’s unilateral actions and intentions have left us with no choice. Therefore, effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” 

“This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theaters reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat. Incidentally, this policy is not aimed solely at Universal out of pique or to be punitive in any way, it also extends to any movie maker who unilaterally abandons current windowing practices absent good faith negotiations between us, so that they as distributor and we as exhibitor both benefit and neither are hurt from such changes. Currently, with the press comment today, Universal is the only studio contemplating a wholesale change to the status quo. Hence, this immediate communication in response.”

Universal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wanda Group, a Chinese conglomerate which owns a majority stake in the theater chain, had their company’s credit rating downgraded to a CCC- by S&P Global. Many believe the company is quickly on the road to Chapter 11 bankruptcy as they have racked up nearly 5 billion dollars in debt.

Despite many states allowing movie theaters to reopen in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, AMC has stated they have no plans to reopen until new Hollywood films are available. Of course, Universal films will not be in their lineup.

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