AMC Bans Universal Studios Films From Its Theatres; Moviegoers React

Thanks to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many businesses are suffering. Among them are movie theatres with AMC leading the pack. As AMC is the largest movie theatre chain in the U.S. it would make sense that they are struggling to keep their company afloat. With all chains shut down for the foreseeable future, there has been a lot of speculation about whether or not the chain will be able to financially recover at all. Despite that, they’ve found time to make threats to Universal Studios.

AMC band Universal Studios from theatres
AMC Theatre in Times Square | Erin Lefevre/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Universal Studios released ‘Trolls World Tour’ to VOD

Recently, Universal Studios made the decision to release Trolls World Tour to VOD. The movie was originally supposed to premiere in theatres like AMC, but because of coronavirus, Universal Studios chose to go a new route. Universal Studios couldn’t have predicted how successful its VOD release would be. In just three weeks, the film racked up nearly $100 million and is well on its way to profitability.

AMC bans Universal Studios from its theatres

Seeing the success of Trolls World Tour, NBCUniversal CEO, Jeff Shell, reported that they would likely release more films to both theatres and VOD when the pandemic has passed. AMC, however, did not take kindly to Shell’s statements. Almost immediately, they retaliated by stating that they would no longer play Universal movies in any of their North American, European, or Middle Eastern theatres. They also threatened that any studios willing to follow Universal’s lead would meet the same fate.

Universal Studios responds to AMC

For their part, Universal Studios responded by stating that they believed wholeheartedly in the theatrical experience. They also mentioned that they expected to work with theatres (and have conversations privately) to discuss how they will move forward from here. Finally, they shared their disappointment with AMC’s response.

Moviegoers react to the news

But how are moviegoers feeling about AMC banning Universal Studios from its theatres? Some feel that AMC doesn’t currently have the capital to make such threats considering their current financial situation. “Da*n, that seems incredibly premature. Hadn’t it already come out that AMC was struggling to be able to even reopen theaters once it’s safe to do so?” one person questioned.

“That is literally the joke here. They’re threatening at the exact same time that it’s not inconceivable the entire chain is going down in flames,” another person said in response. However, some people seemed to see AMC’s side. If Universal Studios did commit to releasing more to VOD, movie theatres would truly struggle to stay afloat. This is especially true if other studios follow suit.

This will impact both parties financially

“The issue isn’t releasing them VOD right now, it’s about after when theatres are back open. If studios continue to release VOD at the same time as theatrical releases, a lot of theatres will close. There won’t be enough revenue,” one cinephile pointed out.

Others argued that Universal Studios would lose out on money if AMC stuck to their guns about the ban. “AMC has the most movie theatres in the United States. If they don’t play a huge movie, like the new Fast & Furious, for example, it would significantly impact how much money they make since there likely wouldn’t be enough screens to meet demand,” a person stated. Truly, we don’t know how this will end for either party. But, we’d wager that AMC’s first priority should be keeping their business afloat through coronavirus.