“We Do Not See Any Business Sense In This Model”

EXCLUSIVE: Those in town assuming that one of the other big exhibition circuits will fall in line with AMC and seek their own 17-day theatrical window-PVOD deal with Universal will soon realize that it will be a cold day in hell.

Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger, who oversees the world’s second largest chain, exclusively tells Deadline that “We do not see any business sense in this model” when it comes to Universal and AMC’s agreement for a 17-day theatrical window for movies, with an option to go on PVOD thereafter.

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“While we don’t know the full details and we are always analyzing any move in the industry, we will analyze it. People need to be aware that the first big movie from Universal is coming only in six months so there is no pressure here,” said Greidinger. “But we clearly see this as a wrong move at the wrong time. Clearly we are not changing our policy with regards to showing only movies that are respecting the theatrical window.”

Cineworld’s response should come as no surprise as it’s the same message Greidinger made loud and clear back in April, when AMC was fighting with Universal publicly over theatrical-PVOD. Greidinger said then, “We make it clear again that we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows.”

Cineworld’s Regal is the second-biggest chain in the U.S. with 7,155 screens in 542 theaters in 42 states. Overall, Cineworld operates in 10 countries with 787 sites, counting 9,500 screens.

Universal has offshore distribution on MGM’s Bond movie No Time to Die in November with the following movies scheduled for release for the rest of the year: MGM’s Candyman on October 16, DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods 2 on Decemer 23, and the Tom Hanks historical period feature News of the World on December 23. Its big movies aren’t until 2021 with F9, Jurassic World: Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru, so it’s a long way before we see whether this deal has any kind of impact on the overall industry. Movie theaters are trying to reopen with Warner Bros’ Tenet and we don’t know what business will be like until then.

In addition, I also understand that this AMC-Universal deal is a stateside experiment, and that terms for whether this deal goes down in foreign markets has yet to be decided. Three-quarters of the world’s exhibition is international, and sources say it will be difficult for Universal to reach international deals.

Also, many in distribution and exhibition question the notion of how long AMC and Universal’s “multi-year” is. Is it two years? Because that’s not really a threat. If it’s four to fives years, then it will get interesting.

Meanwhile, Cinemark when reached Tuesday, wasn’t available for comment. The assumption by a number of movie executives yesterday is that the Plano, Texas-based chain would not be quick to seek a deal similar to the one AMC and Universal have in the works. This despite the fact that Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi mentioned on a recent earnings calls back in June, “We’re open to talking with studio partners about alternatives we can consider.”

However, Zoradi further expounded to Deadline that same month saying that “The big movies, the ones that really count, these movies from a financial standpoint have to go theatrical. It’s a $40 billion-plus business. In fact, in 2019, it was $42 billion worldwide. And in some cases half, or more than half of the revenue stream on big theatrical movies is coming from worldwide theatrical. You can’t just cut that out and think the economics are going to work. And honestly, the studios recognize that. Disney clearly does, Warners does, and I think Universal does on their big movies. And that’s why movies like F9, Jurassic World: Dominion and Minions: The Rise of Gru, these are all going theatrical because they want that high per cap revenue that they get out of theatrical.”

In addition, NATO did not issue a response to the AMC-Universal deal yesterday, despite slamming the latter in April for their decision to go theatrical-PVOD day and date on Trolls World Tour.

Cried one mid-sized exhibition film buyer to Deadline yesterday about NATO and its silence on the AMC-Universal deal: “We didn’t have NATO stand up and represent us? What’s going on NATO? You’re the voice for us. You’re the reason we can’t collude.”

The last time AMC went exclusively down this route with Paramount in 2015 for a truncated stateside theatrical release of Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and Blumhouse’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, it wound up being a disaster, with both movies dying at the box office respectively with $3.7M domestic, and $18.3M domestic. Rival exhibitors were ticked off by Paramount’s then-exclusive deal with AMC and refused to take part in the studio’s experiment even though they were contracted to receive a share of the pics’ early home entertainment revenues.

By the way, talk to some indie exhibitors who participated on that Paramount-AMC experiment, and you’ll learn they weren’t exactly rolling in dough.

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