War, huh, yeah,
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing,
Sing it again, y’all.

You would have thought that as the movie business tries to dig itself out of a deep COVID shaped hole that all parts of the business may come together with a plan to move forward?

Alas not. This is Hollywood remember. Stupid decisions are a part of existence in La-La-Land. As we have seen on everything from email leaks to basic decision making some of these people are really not very smart.  In fact, we know they wouldn’t last ten minutes in quite a lot of other industries outside of this one.

Many of us have been on a 25 year journey. We have gone from being enthusiastic nerds, up through our own particular fields of expertise to climb ladders, corporate or otherwise. As we find ourselves in senior leadership positions or technical masters in our own industries we look at business of movies and laugh at their clueless shenanigans.

In our latest entry for the file marked “Movie Industry Idiocy”, AMC and Universal have declared war on each other.  Total war. Like idiots forming a circular firing squad. Let us all point and laugh at the movie business once again.

AMC Theatres appears to have declared war on Universal Pictures.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell issuing a statement to the Wall Street Journal this week. They bumped a big release, Trolls World Tour, to Premium VOD in the face of theatres closures.  In his statement about it he said it:

“…exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD. As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

So seemingly launching both channels at once, home and theatres. Therefore throwing the three-month exclusivity window to release films digitally in the trash.

AMC Theaters chairman-CEO Adam Aron responded. He wrote direct Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley.  What did that letter say?

A full, outright ban on all Universal movies playing anywhere globally in an AMC theatre.  They simply won’t book a Universal movie:

“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’s unilateral pronouncements on this issue are unpalatable to us, as has always been the case, AMC is willing to sit down with Universal to discuss different windows strategies and different economic models between your company and ours. However, in the absence of such discussions, and an acceptable conclusion thereto, our decades of incredibly successful business activity together has sadly come to an end.”

Holy-moly!  Shots fired!  AMC is dragging around billions in debt but it is the world’s largest chain of movie theatres.

Universal, on the other hand, has a slate that includes latest 007 adventure No Time To Die, F9: The Fast Saga, Jurassic World: Dominion, Boss Baby 2 and Candyman, among others.

Exactly the kind of slate that theatres will be needing to get back on their feet.  Yet Universal will need the global chain that AMC has to get these movies in front of people in their most cost rewarding channel.

Both sides damaging themselves to damage each other. Hollywood, you never fail to disappoint.