4:30 PM UPDATE: My sources say Carmike and Disney have come to terms.
7:30 AM UPDATE: My sources say Regal, Carmike, and as I previously reported AMC are among those big movie chains holding out.
BREAKING… 6 AM EXCLUSIVE: CinemaCon underway now in Las Vegas gives the impression that the Hollywood studios are buddy-buddy with the movie exhibitors. But there’s a frenemies drama unfolding there. I’ve learned that a number of movie theater circuits are refusing to put tickets on sale for Iron Man 3 even though its one of this summer’s most anticipated hits when it opens May 3rd. That’s because Disney decided to leverage the film in order to renegotiate the studio’s future terms with the chains beginning with this humongous Marvel blockbuster. I’m told that AMC, one of America’s largest exhibitors, is among those holding out even though the Robert Downey Jr movie opens wide in North America in just 17 days. Some chains were selling advance tickets — and then stopped. Distributors tell me Disney hasn’t negotiated its terms with the movie chains in several years — not even for Summer 2012’s huge tentpole The Avengers — so the studio thinks it’s due for a new overall deal on future Disney titles. Those include not just Marvel sequels but also Lucasfilm’s new Star Wars series as well as Pixar toons. That’s why the studio right now in Las Vegas is bargaining with the exhibition community, some of whose chains are pushing back. The result is an impasse with a number of circuits refusing to put IM3 tickets on sale until there is an accord. Ticket presales are increasingly important to blockbuster opening weekends. (Interestingly, AMC held Marvel movie marathons as part of the Disney hype machine before that pic opened. And it has scheduled Iron Man marathons for May 2nd.) My sources among distributors and exhibitors expect a fast resolution to this impasse “because these things always get worked out” especially with the clock ticking. Indeed it’s not unusual for Hollywood studios to renegotiate their terms on the eve of the release of a hot movie. And it doesn’t get much hotter than Iron Man 3 which is projected to earn a staggering $125+ million during it’s 3-day non-holiday weekend.