After yesterday’s comments from AMC about refusing to run any future Universal Studios films, it seems that Cineworld (owner of Regal Entertainment) is also joining in on the exclusion. In a new report from Deadline, Cineworld issued a statement that reads, “Cineworld’s policy with respect to the window is clear, well known in the industry and is part of our commercial deal with our movie suppliers…We make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.”
If you’re not quite understanding what windows means – something even I did a double take on while reading-, it refers to the time when a film plays at a theater. Historically speaking, film distributors sign an agreement with different theater chains that grants them exclusive access to films for a short time (usually three months) before any home release happens. There have been differences in the past, but this is typically how things are done.
With Universal finding huge success with Trolls World Tour’s recent digital release and decreeing it will now release all films into theaters and for home rental on the same day, AMC and Cineworld aren’t happy. This goes against the contracts it has signed with Universal, not to mention it sort of reveals how pointless theaters have become. This decision by the two companies, however rash, is completely justified.
Still, I can’t help but feel that Universal is moving in the correct direction. It should have waited out the storm of its contracts before making bold claims, but what does a theater really serve? The experience is nice and all, but there are a ton of places across the globe where potential viewers won’t have access to films because their local theaters couldn’t afford a copy. By limiting things to outdated business practices, you’re cutting off a potential audience there.
I guess that doesn’t matter to these big chains. They still want their money and are going to now try and force Universal into a better deal. Hopefully, Universal steers the course it has currently taken.