The market for integrators to installing more home theaters may have just gotten a big boost with the recent deal announced by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), a division of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA), and AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AMC). The multi-year agreement will allow for Universal films to be available for home premium video on demand (PVOD) within 17 days, as long as that timeframe includes three weekends.
AMC had previously announced it would no longer show Universal movies in its theaters after the studio announced it would be simultaneously releasing films for video on demand and theatrical release due to the coronavirus implications. Previously, films were not released for home viewing until after 90 days in theaters. Full terms of the deal between AMC and Universal were not released.
The news could further bolster the home theater business. Day and date services such as Red Carpet Cinema are already targeting the custom installation market. Integrators can now inform clients the importance of upgrading their display or projection technology to watch films at home.
Specifically, the agreement includes at least three weekends (17-days) 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 premium video on demand (PVOD) platforms, including through AMC Theatres On Demand.
AMC Embraces New Business Model
In the coming weeks, the two companies will begin discussions surrounding international distribution agreements in the countries in Europe and the Middle East served by AMC.
In a jointly issued press release, Donna Langley, chairman of UFEG, says, “The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business. The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”
UFEG Vice Chairman and Chief Distribution Officer of Peter Levinsohn, who led negotiations on behalf of the studio, adds, “Universal’s commitment to innovation in how we deliver content to audiences is what our artists, partners and shareholders all expect of us, and we are excited about the opportunity this new structure presents to grow our business. We are grateful to AMC for their partnership and the leadership they have shown in working with us to reach this historic deal.”
Commenting on the agreement, AMC CEO Adam Aron says, “AMC enthusiastically embraces this new industry model both because we are participating in the entirety of the economics of the new structure, and because premium video on demand creates the added potential for increased movie studio profitability, which should in turn lead to the green-lighting of more theatrical movies.
“This multi-year agreement preserves exclusivity for theatrical viewing for at least the first three weekends of a film’s release, during which time a considerable majority of a movie’s theatrical box office revenue typically is generated. AMC will also share in these new revenue streams that will come to the movie ecosystem from premium video on demand. So, in total, Universal and AMC each believe this will expand the market and benefit us all,” says Aron.
“Focusing on the long-term health of our industry, we would note that just as restaurants have thrived even though every home has a kitchen, AMC is highly confident that moviegoers will come to our theatres in huge numbers in a post-pandemic world. As people enjoy getting out of their homes, we believe the mystical escape and magical communal experience offered at our theatres will always be a compelling draw, including as it does our big screens, big sound and big seats not to mention the alluring aroma of our perfectly prepared popcorn.”
“Universal and AMC have partnered in bringing stellar movies to moviegoers for a full century. With this historic industry changing agreement, together we will continue to do so and in a way that should drive success for us both,” adds Aron.
Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation films include upcoming installments in the Fast & Furious, Jurassic World and Illumination’s Despicable Me/Minions franchises.