Cineworld CEO Calls Universal, AMC On-Demand Streaming Model ‘A Wrong Move’

Regal Cinemas owner stood by previous comments that it will not show movies that fail to respect established theatrical windows

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Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger responded to the historic on-demand streaming window deal between AMC and Universal from Tuesday by calling it a “wrong move” and saying, “we do not see any business sense in this model.”

Speaking to Deadline, Greidinger, who leads the world’s second-largest theater chain following AMC and which operates Regal Cinemas in the U.S., stood by previous comments vowing to not play movies that defy the established theatrical windows.

“While we don’t know the full details and we are always analyzing any move in the industry, we will analyze it. People need to be aware that the first big movie from Universal is coming only in six months so there is no pressure here,” Greidinger told Deadline. “But we clearly see this as a wrong move at the wrong time. Clearly we are not changing our policy with regards to showing only movies that are respecting the theatrical window.”

On Tuesday, AMC and Universal struck a deal for films that the studio wishes to release as premium video on-demand (PVOD) titles. In the new deal, AMC will be guaranteed theatrical exclusivity for all Universal and Focus Features films through the first 17 days of release, after which Universal will have the option to make those films available on PVOD, including through AMC’s own on-demand service.

The deal came after a war of words between Universal and AMC, in which after the PVOD success of “Trolls World Tour” as a result of the coronavirus, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said that when theaters reopen they expect to release movies in both formats. AMC and Cineworld said at the time said that they would not show any Universal movies.

“Universal’s move is completely inappropriate and certainly has nothing to do with good faith business practice, partnership and transparency,” Cineworld said back in April. “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.”

Questions still remain over international distribution for European and Middle-Eastern countries that are part of AMC’s circuit, and Cineworld also operates in 10 countries, including 787 sites and 9,500 screens worldwide.

Universal has consistently maintained that it is committed to theatrical releases and that PVOD is only being considered as a possible option for certain titles like “King of Staten Island,” which also moved to PVOD this summer as theaters remained closed. Pricing for Universal’s PVOD films has varied based on demand, but most titles, including “Trolls World Tour,” have been released with an initial price of $19.99 for a 48-hour rental. The vast majority of Universal films, including blockbusters like “F9,” will still get a theatrical release in 2021. Universal’s next release is the horror film “Candyman” in October of this year.