What was yesterday a minor skirmish now could be escalating.  Has the battle for the soul of a Hollywood distribution begun?

We told you yesterday how AMC had told Universal they weren’t getting booked after what they did regarding home VOD. Theatres are clearly playing hardball now, as a warning to any other studio who has the temerity to even think about cutting theatres out of the loop, as Regal enter the fray.

Regal Entertainment own Cineworld Group and are the second largest cinema business in the world with nearly 10,000 screens.  With AMC, who also own Odeon, this means a huge swathe of screens are now closed to Universal including Cinema City, Yes Planet and Picturehouse.

Cineworld’s most excellently named CEO Mooky Greidinger is not messing about when talking about the policy on the release window and says is:

“…is clear, well known in the industry and is part of our commercial deal with our movie suppliers… We make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.”

Talking of the Universal release of Trolls 2 direct to VOD they say it is:

“…completely inappropriate [and] certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency.”

The studio themselves have moved to clarify saying the theatre chains have misunderstood what their statement meant and they look forward to closed door discussions to clarify, but stress they:

“…absolutely believe in the theatrical experience and made no statement to the contrary, [but] as we stated earlier, going forward, we expect to release future films directly to theatres, as well as on PVOD when that distribution outlet makes sense.”

Universal have one hell of a 2020/2021 slate for potential box office.  These two theatre chains have the world of screens sown up. Grab your popcorn folks!