AMC Boss Calls Universal Relations “Warm” After Spat, But Chain Has Yet To Book Studio’s Movies

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Buried in AMC’s Q1 earnings release today on page 3 was the statement, “While we are in active dialogue with Universal, no movies made by Universal Studios are currently on our docket.”

The note comes a little bit more than a month after AMC CEO and President Adam Aron alerted the studio in a public note to Universal Studios Chairman Donna Langley that the circuit is barring all the studio’s future titles. Aron’s embargo came in the immediate wake of NBC Universal CEO Jeff Shell’s victory lap for the $100M-grossing PVOD release of DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour and statements made to the Wall Street Journal that the studio would “release movies on both formats,” indicating a day-and-date theatrical-VOD shift once theaters reopen.

Analysts on today’s earnings call were concerned if there was still a standoff between AMC and Universal, given the fact that the latter is handling the overseas distribution of MGM’s 007 film No Time to Die, which will open stateside on November 25 and earlier abroad.

Adam Aron Shutterstock

Said Aron: “So, look, relations are warm with Universal. They have always been warm, and I’m using that as a good word. There’s nothing personal about this issue with Universal. I have great respect for Universal’s executives. It’s just an issue about money. We are in active dialogue with Universal.”

While we reached out to Universal about Aron’s comments today and the studio did not have a response, practically speaking, it’s too soon for AMC to worry about booking any of the studio’s titles. Warner Bros. is looking to grab as many screens as it can for Tenet on July 17, and while many, including Aron, remain hopeful that the Christopher Nolan film will open on that day, it’s not 100% yet. Couple this with the fact that Disney hasn’t called back its furloughed distribution ops yet to book Mulan for July 24.

AMC has a bit of time before it has to book any Universal titles. The first movie on Uni’s schedule is Focus Features’ Kevin Costner-Diane Lane crime drama Let Him Go on August 21. The following month, Focus has Universal’s Kajillionaire starting its platform on September 18, followed by Uni/MGM’s Candyman on September 25 and Amblin’s Tom Hanks sci-fi movie Bios on October 2.

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