The CEO of AMC Theaters bashed Warner Bros Pictures Group on Thursday after the media organization announced that it would be diverging from industry practice by concurrently releasing its slate of 2021 films on HBO Max and in U.S. movie theaters.
“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max startup,” said AMC CEO Adam Aron in a statement, reports Deadline. “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
Aron, who said AMC was currently in discussions with Warner Media over the decision, showed optimism about the movie industry, saying people “soon will be able once again to delight in coming to our theaters without any worry — viewing the world’s best movies safely in our big seats, with our big sound and on our big screens.”
As The Wall Street Journal noted, however, Warner Pictures’ decision sent a signal across the industry that the future of entertainment is “in the living room,” not theaters.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” Ann Sarnoff, the CEO of WarnerMedia Studios, said in a statement announcing the development Thursday. “No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”
Under the new model, HBO Max will stream Warner Media’s 2021 films for one month beginning the day theaters start showing them. Such films include “Dune,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Matrix 4,” and “Mortal Kombat,” among over a dozen others.
“With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances,” said Sarnoff.
Earlier this year, AMC protested Universal Pictures after the group suggested they would experiment with dual format releases upon the success of doing so with “Trolls World Tour,” which reportedly raised nearly $100 million in direct streaming over three weeks.
“Effectively immediately AMC will no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theatres in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” said Aron in a statement to Universal. “This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat.”
AMC and Universal struck a deal several months later in which Universal agreed to provide the theater chain with a 17-day theatrical release window before allowing its films to be streamed, reports CNBC.
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