AMC CEO Adam Aron is having an interesting 24 hours. After last night's debacle by saying that the chain wouldn't require moviegoers to wear masks for fear of "wading into a political debate," they changed tunes today and reversed that decision. Now, in an interview with CNN Business, Aron is reigniting the feud with Universal Pictures. When the shutdowns began, Universal put films that were still on theaters on streaming services, culminating in skipping the theatrical window for Trolls World Tour. Because of the success of that release, Universal has decided to do this with more films, even teasing they would do day and date release in theaters and streaming. That rubbed theater owners the wrong way, and Aron took a bold stand: AMC would ban Universal releases going forward. That includes films like the next Fast and Furious film, Minions: The Rise of Gru, and the upcoming Jurassic World film. In the interview, he doubles down on all of this.
When asked by the interviewer if Aron is telling him he has to go somewhere else to see these big films: "Yes, assuming that we can't have discussions with Universal that solve our concerns. Remember that AMC has been showing Universal movies happily and profitably for decades. We didn't change the status quo, and we didn't actually have any protest about "Trolls" at all. You didn't hear one word of objection from AMC about "Trolls." We understood that our theaters were shut, that they have a business to run, and that they felt they needed to take "Trolls" to the home rather than waiting."
"Our concern is that Universal said that once theaters reopened, they were going to try to take movies to the home and theaters at the same time. It wasn't "Trolls" we were concerned about. It's the movies after "Trolls" that we're concerned about. And if they take movies to the home and theaters at the same time, they're the ones who are changing the status quo, and they would make it unprofitable for us to play Universal movies in our theaters.
So if you actually look at the letter that I wrote to the chairman of Universal Studios back in April, I said that that Universal had broken the business relationship between Universal and AMC by changing the status quo and that we would have to come up with a new business relationship if we were going to accommodate their new desires. We're in active dialogue with Universal now. We'll see where that leads, but it is our current plan not to show Universal movies if we can't do so profitably."
I firmly believe this won't happen, but hey, crazy stuff is happening in 2020. Can you imagine if this happens and the world's largest chin doesn't carry Universal films? Wild times my friends.