Good deal – AMC strikes historic deal with Universal to shrink theatrical window to 17 days

17 days. Wow. This is a better deal than anybody predicted would be cut by Universal.

Yes, the same Universal that was being threatened by AMC earlier this year for their decision to release Trolls World Tour to VOD (see: AMC Titanic May Just Have Struck Studio Iceberg – They Will No Longer Play ANY Universal Movies). Like I said all along, AMC was holding a pair of deuces during pandemic poker and Universal had dealt themselves a straight flush with the VOD success of Trolls.

17 days is the new theatrical window deal that AMC cut with Universal. From 90 to 17 and AMC will share in the VOD/PVOD revenue.

The deal includes at least three weekends of theatrical exclusivity for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases, at which time the studio will have the option to make its titles available across PVOD platforms. Universal said its traditional windows for electronic sell-through and regular VOD remain unchanged.

AMC Theatres, Universal Collapsing Theatrical Window to 17 Days in Unprecedented Pact | Hollywood Reporter

Readers will note I’ve been pushing for shortening the theatrical window for quite some time — since October of last year, well before we knew anything about a pandemic (see: It’s Time To Shrink Theatrical Window To 30 Days), so of course I like this deal.

17 days includes three weekends in the cinema which is more than enough for most movies — except big budget films — to be exclusive to theaters.

Will other studios cut similar deals? Indeed, I think they will. What do you think of this new 17 day window?

AMC now targeting July 30 reopening due to Tenet and Mulan delays, Regal staying July 10 course

This makes sense — and yet it sort of doesn’t.

The problem with theaters continuing to wait to reopen until they have new movies is waiting too long, not testing the moviegoer marketplace in current times with safety protocols in place. Wait too long, not enough screens are open, this spooks the studios who, in turn, delay their movies further, thus giving the theaters less new movies to show.

This perpetuates a cycle that will be difficult to break as long as theaters continue to stay closed. The sooner they open, they start testing the market with their enhanced safety protocols and then they’re ready and customers are programmed by the time Tenet, Mulan and other new titles hit. It makes sense.

As of this writing, assuming it’s safe and legal to do so of course, Regal Cinema is standing by their reopening date plans (see: Regal Cinemas Announces Classic Movie Screenings Starting July 10 (IF they reopen): Rocky, Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and more), but AMC announced they are pushing back their reopening plans by a couple more weeks.

On Monday, the largest theater chain in the U.S., said it would now begin its phased reopening of theaters on July 30. Previously, the company had planned on starting to reopen theaters in mid-July in time for the releases of “Tenet” and “Mulan.” 

AMC shifts reopening to July 30 as Hollywood pushes back blockbusters

As stated here before, we don’t personally care when AMC reopens in our area, because we are Regal Unlimited Pass customers and watch the vast majority of movies in Regal Cinemas in our area.

These are the theaters we’ll be watching movies at again soon, hopefully. And, yes, we’ll wear masks, as they are now required everywhere in Washington State in public. Don’t know about you, but I’m more used to wearing a mask. No, I don’t like wearing them, but I’ve been wearing one literally for months now, so it’s become conditioned behavior. When health officials say it is safe to no longer wear one, I happily go without, but I’m not going to let wearing a mask spoil going out in public and to the movies (see: Will You Watch More or Less Movies in Theaters That Require Wearing a Mask?)

Regal Cinemas is a mere 11 days from this post, and yet no movie times are showing yet. I’m curious when presales will become available? I mean, you’d think the next few days if they’re opening in 11 days, certainly not like the night before, right? Yes/no?

I keep reading about part of the safety is not having cash transactions and buying tickets online … .but yet we’re nearing a week before theaters reopen and still can’t buy tickets yet. I realize they are probably waiting until the last possible moment to reopen, but it seems counter to planning and safety to not give some amount of time in advance of the reopening for ticket presales.

Then again, maybe the vast majority of theater ticket purchases are on site? Admittedly, that’s how we prefer to do it, even though we can use the app in our phones and pay like 50 cents or something for the “convenience” of a presale. I wonder if those convenience fees will be waived in light of this being the primary way to buy movie tickets?

So many questions and so few answers. We’ll stay on top of it. Feel free to use the comments to share what your movie theater reopening experience is like.

AMC opens mouth, inserts foot … again – please just reopen already!

If any company ever needed to quit the doom diet, it’s AMC. We realize time’s are challenging and they need to tell shareholders something, but does it have to be that they have “substantial doubt” their business can continue to stay afloat? I mean, really.

Negative prophetic hypotheticals aren’t even remotely encouraging for businesses.

Sure, AMC are burning cash while closed and if they open and don’t do enough business they’ll burn reserves even faster. The problem is the longer they stay closed, I’d argue, the worse it all gets.

The theater chain, which closed its theaters earlier this year, expects to have lost between $2.1 billion and $2.4 billion in the first quarter.

AMC Theatres has ‘substantial doubt’ it can remain in business – CNN

I’ve been saying all along that they should reopen as soon as it’s safe to do so. More and more businesses are being allowed to reopen. We’re in June now, and while there are no new wide release movies available, it seems prudent to me that they should get the theaters open — again, if it’s safe to do so — then start showing movies.

Or are they literally going to wait until the week of Tenet on July 17? I’ve heard they may reopen in July, but not seen any actual date on the AMC website. Has anybody else?

Amazon doesn’t need AMC, but they could use some more movie theaters

Don’t buy the hype that Amazon might actually buy AMC. Look at AMC’s burning balance sheet. It’s a huge money-making business, but not a very profitable one for movie theater owners.

Yesterday, we saw the news that Amazon is reportedly talking with AMC about a possible buyout. Maybe by now you’ve seen and heard the reports too.

It sounds enticing. Amazon Studios wanting to get more of their movies on the big screens being suddenly the #1 biggest movie chain in the world? Oh, the possibilities. The extra income …

… until you hear the price tag. That brutal thing known as overhead.

Amazon thrives on reducing overhead. Seeing them in a business where they can’t use drones instead of people to deliver popcorn to moviegoers? Don’t laugh. It might be possible someday to have drones deliver concessions in movie theaters 😉

Right now, today, I don’t see how or why it makes any business or financial sense for a hugely profitable company like Amazon to absorb billions in AMC debt. Instead, they could, should and probably will let them fold and buy the theaters — the actual physical locations — they want in a fire sale. Some AMC theaters are in locations that might need immediate shutdown (see: Florida Landlord Sues AMC for Rent – 7.5 million – Meanwhile, they won’t open until there are “new” movies to show?)

AMC needs Amazon’s help much more. Of course the stocks of both companies are jumping on the mere mention of talks.

Shares of AMC were up more than 18% in premarket trading on Monday after the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper reported that Amazon has held talks with the world’s largest cinema-chain owner, which runs movie theaters globally under the AMC and Odeon names in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada, among other locations.

Amazon Reportedly Expresses Buyout Interest in AMC – TheStreet

Amazon already owns some smaller theaters and it makes total sense for them to expand their movie theater presence — assuming they believe in physical movie theaters — just as they bought Whole Foods to expand their grocery business.

I’m not sure Amazon believes, at least on a giant, global scale, that movie theaters will be as dominant in the future as they’ve been in the past. That’s the billion dollar question. I’m not arguing that movie theaters won’t continue to play some important part in the future of movie watching and that Amazon would like to have that distribution arm for their films being friendlier (say goodbye to most if not all of the theatrical window if Amazon buys AMC).

A more wise business decision for Amazon is to wait and see what happens.

Let the big three movie chains suffer financially and then swoop in and cherry pick the physical locations. They don’t need AMC corporate and NATO (National Association of Theater Owners), but could benefit from owning some of the better physical locations. Those will be for sale without the beleaguered companies and their obsoleted theatrical window rules.

My guess is that’s what Jeff Bezos and company said in their talks, if they even had any according to the rumor and alleged news reports. We’ll buy some of your locations but we want to run them our way. Yes, our way or the highway, AMC. Indeed, that’s what a business overflowing with cash in the black says to a company deep in the red.

AMC, if they have any choice, will not slice up their company for Amazon. I don’t see a deal happening yet. Could it happen someday? Sure, but it isn’t in Amazon’s favor at the present time. Regardless the outcome, I do see Amazon picking up more physical theaters. In fact, I’ve already said this was a strong possibility in past posts here.

And while we’re speculating. Disney, Universal, all the major studios should be staking claim to buying more movie theaters that may soon be on the market. Since the age old laws were lifted preventing them from doing so (see: Studios To Regain Powers Due to 1948 Paramount Consent Being Overturned), it’s a golden opportunity for them to own locations they can exhibit their movies. Competition is good and I don’t see how any three giant corporations owning almost all the movie theaters is as good as a half dozen major studios owning chains of theaters.

Strap in, grab your popcorn, the future of movie theater ownership is headed for change.

Florida Landlord Sues AMC for Rent – 7.5 million – Meanwhile, they won’t open until there are “new” movies to show?

AMC On Demand is available … not sure how much $$ it is generating?

It’s not news that landlords are feeling the sting from tenants that can’t pay rent, but I’m a bit flummoxed by this lawsuit. $7.5 million for the entire balance of the lease? That’s what a Florida landlord is asking AMC to pay.

Palm Springs Mile Associates, Ltd., filed suit in federal court in Miami, alleging that AMC had failed to pay the $52,153.87 monthly rent on the AMC Hialeah 12. The suit contends that the breach of contract has triggered a requirement for immediate payment of the balance of the lease. The suit seeks in excess of $7.5 million in damages.

AMC Theatres Sued by Florida Landlord for Not Paying Rent – Variety

Let’s talk about that rent for a minute. $52,153.87 per month. If we divide that by 12 screens that works out to a cost of $4,346 per screen, if we then divide that by 30 days, that works out to 362 movie tickets sold per screen per day just to pay the rent.

This doesn’t take into account that the theaters don’t get to keep 100% of the ticket price. In fact, they get far less from the new movies when first released. This also doesn’t cover any labor costs.

This makes me feel less annoyed that popcorn is sold at an extreme markup (see: 788% Profit on Movie Theater Popcorn). Clearly, without the concessions these movie theaters would go broke.

Why aren’t movie theaters selling and delivering popcorn? There’s Doordash, Ubereats, etc. I’d think this would give at least some revenue to theaters from their businesses that literally are making $0 while shuttered. Some independent theaters are doing this but not the big three. They just shuttered and furloughed a bunch of their employees. They didn’t even try.

On that front, I can see why landlords would feel a little put off. No attempt to use any of that real estate to generate any kind of revenue makes little sense. The flip side of that is that rent seems ridiculous to me. Maybe it’s in a prime location, I don’t know the details, maybe it is well worth that price, but that is some real difficult math to wrap your head around for a viable business model at the least.

Put all this together and add to it the news that AMC is now holding out on reopening because there are no new movies to show? That just adds to the legal quagmire for this struggling industry giant.

AMC, open the theaters when it is safe to do so, there are plenty of movies to show — classic movies, if need be. Using the excuses not to reopen because now there are no new movies to show? That will likely not hold up in neither the court of public opinion or court that decides financial judgments against your business.

Regal Closes All US Theaters, Suspends Billing for Unlimited Pass Customers

This is a sad day for movie theater fans. Finding a movie to play in a theater — any theater — in any United States city? Difficult, perhaps soon to be impossible. AMC and Regal Cinemas have closed all their U.S theaters.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter they expect most, if not all, cinemas in the U.S. to follow suit and go dark in the coming days, much as in Europe and parts of Asia. Regal is the first U.S. circuit to make a blanket announcement.

Regal to Close All U.S. Theaters Indefinitely Amid Coronavirus Pandemic | Hollywood Reporter

We’re down in Las Vegas right now and yesterday we caught — literally — the last showing of The Hunt ⭐️⭐️ at 4:30pm at the Boulder Station casino in Las Vegas. We then tried to go down to the Palace Station for the Cinebarre and it was already closed (see sign above).

We received a note from our Regal Unlimited app that they are suspending billing temporarily. We were both wondering if we’d be billed $42 USD for the month when there were no movies we could see, even if we wanted. Turns out that Regal already has planned this out. Good for them. We wish the theaters were still open, but appreciate not being charged for something we are now unable to use.

Unconfirmed as of this writing, but I believe Cinemark theaters in Las Vegas are still open — they are showing movie times as of moments ago — so movies can still be seen in those theaters, but who knows how much longer they’ll hold out.

MGM has closed down their 14 properties on the strip in Vegas, and that alone feels weird. Even during 9/11, which by the way, we were also in Las Vegas, everything stayed open.

How long will these theater closures last? We tried asking questions but even the employees we spoke to were told nothing. Only that they needed to close and there were no answers as to when the theaters would reopen.

Sad, sad days.

Mark Pearson Hired As AMC Chief Strategy Officer – NOW is the time for creative streaming options

I’ve been mentioning that the timing is right to do something about shortening the theatrical window and at least during the current virus situation consider eliminating the window altogether in some geographic territories (IE. India, China).

Yes, there will be pirating. There still is now, even without streaming. Everybody’s afraid of the pirates destroying the world. As wider bandwidth increases, movies will be pirated in greater numbers regardless if there are legal options or not. I say get ahead of the pirates and offer moviegoers legal means to stream new release movies. If this kills off the theater chains because nobody will go to the movies for just overpriced concessions, than so be it.

I don’t believe this will happen any time soon. Yes, it will happen someday. Movie theaters as we know them today are living on borrowed time.

The wall against shortening the theatrical window is crumbling. Movie theaters need to accept and embrace that they have a social meeting place environment, not just a theater that shows movies on a giant screen. Understand what they are selling is that most people cannot get (easily) this experience at home.

Yes, more affluent people can setup a theater in their mansion, outbuilding or converted garage, then supply it with an HD projector or giant screen LCD and buy a commercial popcorn maker. Then they need to invite family, friends and associates to come and sit in the theater to watch movies … face it, even with the money and physical space, the logistics aren’t there.

Also, there’s the whole point of leaving your house to go somewhere with your significant other. There is a world outside home and it is good to get out and explore it. Staying home is all well and good, but it’s not the same.

Could we buy a super comfy giant recliner seat and put this in our home? Sure. Would we? Probably not. When we go to the movies, we prefer these seats over the traditional bucket theater seats. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll never want to sit in the others

Sell the differences, movie theater chains. Tell us about your whiz bang comfy recliner seats (pictured above) or just follow the link.

Where am I going with all of this? AMC has hired someone new in a “strategic” role. When I think of successful strategists at companies, I think of people that think outside the box.

Sometimes way outside the box. Bigger risk, bigger rewards.

“Mark is media-world savvy, has extensive strategy and business development experience and is highly regarded within the Hollywood community. He is the perfect person to help AMC continue to innovate and create opportunities that benefit our existing studio partners, emerging streaming power houses, our customers and our shareholders,” Aron said. He said Pearson’s “considerable experience in the SVOD space will greatly help AMC to create partnerships with streaming services including those from both established and emerging players.”

AMC Entertainment Hires Mark Pearson As Chief Strategy Officer – Deadline

AMC, Regal and other big movie theaters need to sell what they have better. Perhaps this is what Mark Pearson is being hired to do at AMC(?) but my gut feeling is Mark will never see this blog or my words. He’ll probably be insulated by assistants who wouldn’t dare do anything except get him Starbucks, but maybe one of them — just maybe — will come across this post and others I’ve made about the need to shrink the theatrical window for their business future survival.

Get ahead of the beast. Do what the giant record companies didn’t feel they needed to do. Listen to your customers. Give them what they want.

Listen or go out of business.

And just so it’s clear: I have seen every wide release movie released since August 12, 2019 in theaters. Would I watch some of them through a streaming option if they were available that way through our unlimited membership? Yes. So, that would cannibalize some of their concession sales from me.

I’d be OK with a surcharge home convenience fee whenever I chose that because just getting in the car to drive to the theater and back costs at least some $$ gas $$. If I can stay home and stream movies for $2-4 each (in addition to my monthly unlimited fee), you bet I would. Am sure others would do so, too.

Sure, there are downsides to home streaming options. You can’t sell individual tickets in someone’s house. The stream comes in and a dozen or more people could see it for the single stream. Technology with facial recognition could help ensure that each person in the audience has a virtual “ticket” and thus that is one way to get around making sure the audience has all paid for a ticket, even if it’s streaming. This would work for small in-home theater audiences, but cumbersome for larger group settings.

The technology to do what I described exists. Would some custom programming be required? Sure. Would it be 100% fullproof and invulnerable to theft/cheat/scam/pirating? No.

The point I’m making is the studios are missing a huge business opportunity. They seem to be just waiting out this virus problem, hoping it will end soon and people will start going to the movies again in the same numbers when — RIGHT NOW — they could sell newer streaming movies inside the current 90 day theatrical window, especially in geographic areas like China and India where moviegoers that want to see these movies can’t.

If you have people wanting to buy your product and can’t, its time to roll up those sleeves and fill the need. Mark Pearson, hopefully, you’re listening.

Creepshow Renewed For Second Season, Setting Records on Shudder

Creepshow Season 2 is coming! No details provided when that will be yet, but it is renewed!

Very happy to learn that AMC has announced they will renew the hit TV show Creepshow for a second season. I’ve been following along with each new episode, with the finale of the first season available on a very timely Halloween.

“Creepshow is a breakout series that’s hit the trifecta for streaming services: Shudder members love it, critics love it and it’s driving record numbers of new subscribers,” said Shudder GM Craig Engler. “Greg Nicotero and his team have delivered an amazing show that honors the original movie by George A. Romero and Stephen King while forging an identity that’s uniquely its own.”

“Creepshow” Has Been Breaking Streaming Records for Shudder – Bloody Disgusting

Originally they were planning to do Stephen King’s story “Survivor Type” — I hope that one or another good one of his is chosen. “Gray Matter” which was the debut episode of season one, episode one was just so-so.

We will have a review of the entire first TV season of Creepshow very soon. It’s already written through the first five episodes, but waiting to review the final episode so a single post can have a review for the entire season. Also, did this for Black Mirror, and that will be available exclusively here on this blog soon.

AMC Theater On-Demand Movie Service Launching – Will It Offer Anything Different?

AMC Theaters On Demand Movie is opening soon here:
https://www.amctheatres.com/about/on-demand

AMC Theaters On Demand will offer about 2,000 films for sale or rent after their theatrical runs — much like Amazon or iTunes. Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount have made deals with AMC for catalog and new-release movies to be available through the new service, with pricing between $3 to $5.99 to rent and $9.99 to $19.99 to buy.

AMC Entertainment Introducing On-Demand Movie Service – Variety

How long before the big theater chains start their own streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video? I’d be in favor of this IF they were somehow able to fill that time gap by dumping newer movies into their streaming service after the initial screenings dropped below a certain number and/or after a certain amount of time (30 days, perhaps?).

As for there being “to many streaming services” I’m all for competition. Let them compete with Netflix, Amazon and Disney if they must.

Speaking of Disney’s new streaming service that opens November 12 and will cost $6.99/month, they have posted their launch title library and it’s collected here which includes all the Star Wars movies and all 30 years worth of The Simpsons!

Now after that more exciting Disney+ stuff, back to AMC’s new streaming rental and buy service.

Something tells me that this will be just another place to buy movies that most people aren’t going to use. Why buy movies at a bunch of different places. We buy movies at Amazon and Vudu currently online. The only other service under consideration is FandangoNow because they work with the Occulus and sell 3D movies.

Too many different places to buy movies and keep track of them isn’t very desirable.

As for renting videos at about the same prices as Amazon, Vudu, etc? Don’t see the point there either unless they have movies not available at existing online rental stores.