AMC, Universal Ink Pivotal Deal to Shrink Exclusivity Window

Hollywood film studio Universal Pictures and AMC Theatres, which operates more than 8,000 screens in the U.S., signed a historic multi-year agreement to allow Universal’s films to launch on video-on-demand only 17 days after their theatrical debuts, breaking the long-standing industry norm of 90 days between the two releases. Universal may, however, let tentpole movies play exclusively in movie theaters beyond 17 days. According to Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chair Donna Langley, “the theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business.” Continue reading AMC, Universal Ink Pivotal Deal to Shrink Exclusivity Window

AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

AMC Theatres told its investors that “substantial doubt exists about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time.” In a new 8-K filing, ahead of its earning call next week, the company described how it is trying to survive but also stressed how badly the coronavirus pandemic is eroding its financial stability. The movie theater chain had $5 billion in debt by the end of 2019 and continues to borrow more. Adding to its woes is the worry that distributors will postpone new film releases. Continue reading AMC Expresses ‘Substantial Doubt’ About its Chain’s Survival

Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Big spending digital players Netflix and Amazon are shaking up traditional TV stalwarts. Netflix is expected to spend $6 billion on original and acquired programming this year, up $1 billion from last year. That figure is five times more than what cable outlets FX (owned by 21st Century Fox) and Showtime (owned by CBS Corp.) spend and more than twice that spent by Time Warner’s premium channel HBO. TV actors are demanding $250,000 an episode, twice their previous rate, and there’s a feeding frenzy for A-list below-the-line crews. Continue reading Netflix Dominance Pushing Studios to Earlier Release Window

Directors, Producers Join NATO in Concern Over Premium VOD

We recently reported that a new premium VOD service from DirecTV was in the works that would make movies available in the home shortly after their theatrical release.  The Hollywood Reporter now says 23 industry leaders — including Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Michael Bay, Michael Mann and Kathryn Bigelow — have thrown their support behind the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) by signing an open letter in opposition of the new distribution model.

NATO is running the letter this week in Variety at the same time the new VOD service — dubbed Home Premiere — is launched (the first available title will be Sony’s “Just Go With It”). According to DirecTV, new movie releases will be available in 1080p HD for $29.99, months before they are available on Netflix, DVD or Blu-ray. THR reports that theater owners are threatened by this proposal and what they see as a disruption to a proven distribution model. The directors and producers who signed NATO’s letter do not believe a premium VOD service will solve slumping DVD sales, and could negatively impact the platform release patterns of specialty films and lead to additional piracy issues.

“As a crucial part of a business that last year grossed close to $32 billion in worldwide theatrical ticket sales,” the letter states, “we in the creative community feel that now is the time for studios and cable companies to acknowledge that a release pattern for premium video-on-demand that invades the current theatrical window could irrevocably harm the financial model of our film industry.”

Related THR story: “7 Key Questions Surrounding DirecTV’s Premium VOD Service Controversy” (4/19/11)

Related Bloomberg story: “DirecTV Starts Premium Film Rentals at $29.99 for 48 Hours” (4/19/11)

Premium VOD: New Distribution Model from DirecTV?

The nation’s No.1 and No. 2 satellite TV providers may be looking for new ways to provide movies to consumers. Dish Network (No. 2) recently purchased the assets of bankrupt Blockbuster for $320 million and may use the company’s online streaming service to take on video rental enterprises such as Netflix.

Meanwhile, DirecTV (No.1) is reportedly in talks with Hollywood studios regarding a new movie rental service that would provide $30 rentals just two months after films’ theatrical releases. Studios that are looking to combat slumping DVD sales believe that some consumers, especially families, may be willing to pay the higher fee for access to titles prior to their availability on DVD or from services such as Netflix.

Analysts explain that movie studios are open to new online streaming or pay-per-view models in order to recoup revenue from declining DVD purchases. We may also see $30 premium movie-on-demand offerings from cable firms such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Related TVPredictions.com post: “DirecTV to Offer $30 VOD Next Week?” (4/15/11)

Related Engadget post: “DirecTV, Comcast, Vudu could start offering premium VOD $30 movie rentals in April” (3/31/11)