AMC’s deal with NBCUniversal could bring new movies to viewers’ homes in 17 days

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AMC’s 42nd st. movie theatre remains closed as New York City slowly introduces phases of reopening after two and half months of COVID-19 lockdown, June 9, 2020. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., registered a $2.2 billion net loss in their quarterly report at the end of March, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic effects on the society and the economy, as cities across the United States closed movie theaters to stop the spread of Coronavirus, June 9, 2020. Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA.

AMC struck a deal with NBCUniversal to allow the studio’s movies to arrive to video on-demand (VOD) services 17 days after their theatrical releases. The theater chain was in financial trouble even before the pandemic, and this move could be a lifeline for them as theaters reopen in some states. 

Other studios and cinemas have criticized the deal, saying that collapsing the theatrical window could have long-term consequences for the movie business. Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview with Deadline that the company does not see “any business sense in this model.” Cineworld owns Regal Cinemas, the second largest theater chain in the United States.

NBCUniversal says that some titles may still take longer than 17 days to arrive on VOD. On a Comcast earnings call, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said that he hoped the deal would act as “a complement rather than a replacement” for a longer release in theaters, as viewers become more accustomed to viewing films at home. Before the deal, a 90-day theatrical window was standard.

This decision follows the VOD success of “Trolls World Tour,” which reportedly earned Universal $100 million in three weeks earlier this year. With the new deal, the company hopes to tap into fresh markets of viewers. 

NBCUniversal has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Its parent company lost 12% of its total revenue last quarter owing largely to a drop in revenue from theme parks, advertising, and movie studios. 

The effects of the NBCUniversal-AMC deal will play out over  several months. NBCUniversal’s upcoming releases include “Croods 2” and “Candyman.” However, the outcome of this deal will not become apparent until 2021, with the release of big-budget films like “F9,” “Jurassic World: Dominion,” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru.” 

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