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AMC And Universal Pictures Agree To 'video On Demand' After 17-day Theatrical Debut

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AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (AMC) and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), a division of Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), have reached a deal to shorten the theatrical window to just 17 days for the studio's films.

The agreement includes at least three weekends of theatrical exclusivity for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases. After which the the studio will have the option to make it available across premium video on demand (PVOD) platforms, including through AMC Theatres On Demand.

The new deal marks a shift from the standard theatrical release window, which has typically been between 70 and 90 days in recent years.

"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," said Donna Langley, Chairman, UFEG.

Commenting on the agreement, AMC CEO Adam Aron said, "AMC enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies. This multi-year agreement preserves exclusivity for theatrical viewing for at least the first three weekends of a film's release, during which time a considerable majority of a movie's theatrical box office revenue typically is generated. AMC will also share in these new revenue streams that will come to the movie ecosystem from premium video on demand."

Universal and AMC have been disputing about the release windows after Universal planned to release future films on both digital and theatrical platforms, driven by success of the direct-to-digital release of Trolls: World Tour, which had skipped theaters due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron had called Universal's plan "unacceptable," and threatened to ban all future Universal releases from AMC Theaters.

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