AMC CEO Believes Shorter Theatrical Releases Will Be The New Standard

Remember when Avengers: Endgame was in theaters for 20 long weeks? Notes like that are extra long theatrical releases, largely because Avatar was going to be booted clean off the ‘Most Profitable Movie Ever’ mountaintop come hell or high water someday.

If you ask Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theaters, those days are about to be over.

A couple of weeks back while theater chains were all trying to figure out how to protect patrons so they don’t get a case of cooties while watching movies, AMC Theaters and Universal Studios struck a historic deal. Essentially, this game-changer will allow the studio to release movies in the home as early as 17 days after its promoted theatrical releases.

I’m expecting that this is going to become an industry standard. I expect that some of our competitors will do this, if not all.

CEO of AMC Theaters Adam Aron

Theatrical Releases: 8 Weeks Down to 2

Goodbye relaxing time at the movies. Hello "premium on-demand" thanks to much shorter theatrical releases.
Get ready for a LOT more of this…

The movie-watching experience will never be the same, and effin’ COVID-19 is all to blame.

Things Dr. Seuss would have said today

Yeah, that is about it. Imagine you only have two weeks to see Dune, Tenet, or Eternals. If you miss any two-week theatrical releases, you can soon get it on PPV. Sure, you miss the entire magic associated with going to the movies, but at least you don’t have to worry about getting the ‘Rona.

This is a multi-year agreement between AMC Theaters and Universal Studios, and Adam Aron believes other movie chains (e.g., Cinemark, Regal, Cineworld) will be following suit. Of course, this move is all about the fans… yeah, right. This is all about money.

Thanks to what we are doing at home, we have a new section on TV apps: “premium on-demand.” That is where your movies will go following some two-week theatrical releases. Wanna pay $20 or $30 bucks for a PPV? That’ll be a premium rental.

According to this new inked deal, Universal will not sell or rent films for lower than on-demand money — $3 to $6 — until three months after the cinematic theatrical release has been closed.

And by then, it’s spoiler city.

The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business. The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.

Donna Langley, chairwoman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group

Oh, “our collective desire to ensure a thriving future” should be read “we want to continue to make our nut on the sweaty $1 bills of movegoers out there, and if they feel rushed to make it to the movies within two weeks, that’s great with us.”

Competitors in the movie theater business hate this deal. To wit, Aron tries to pleasantly pat them on their butt and send them on their way because he’s certain this is the new way of the cinematic world.

I do realize that some of our competitors are anxious about this change. Change is always difficult for some to cope with. We’ve researched it, we’ve modeled it, we’ve thought about it, we’ve argued about it, we’ve debated it, and we’re sure that we’re coming out ahead

Adam Aron

See there? “We’re coming out ahead.”

Cinephiles, as much as we want to believe people make movies for the fans, this is all about show business. Movie chains have to make money. Film studios have to make money. And us? We get to spend money.

Sure, film studios want you to bum rush the movie theater in only two weeks because the looming theatrical releases’ window will slam much faster. Yet, today, they have to worry about you risking disease to see that movie…or just wait for the new fancy “premium on-demand.”

It’s not nearly the same experience at home than at the theater, so maybe price breaks will come our way. And hey, if we do go back to the movies, we get a souvenir cup for free refills that cost $10, so there’s that for a take-home memory.

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