EXCLUSIVE: “The second domino tumbles!” That’s what one Delaware-based theater owner exclaimed to Deadline today, referring to the news in the exhibition world that Universal has followed 20th Century Fox’s lead in not granting exhibitor clearances, beginning with the June 10 release of the Legendary Pictures title Warcraft. For studios, this is a matter of good business, keeping their hands clean of the calamity that has ensued with the Justice Department’s investigation of Cinemark, Regal and AMC’s circuit dealing in the past.
Per our previous report, there are some major studios out there, namely Sony and Disney, that believe clearances are good for business, particularly when it comes to maximizing revenue for a film. Paramount has a longstanding practice of not honoring exhibition clearances. And even though a studio won’t honor clearance requests, it doesn’t mean that an exhibitor will ignore its right for clearance.
That said, there also has been a change in attitude toward clearances with one major exhibitor: AMC Theatres.
An AMC insider recently informed Deadline that it will begin playing in competitive areas starting with the May 27 release of Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse. “AMC is accepting Fox’s term and playing X-Men day-and-date,” said our source. What does that mean? It means that AMC will play the Bryan Singer title even if it’s up on a Regal marquee in the same zone. And in fact, X-Men: Apocalypse is currently booked at both AMC’s Empire 25 and the Regal E-Walk Stadium, which are directly across the street from each other on 42nd Street in Manhattan.