Exhib sez early window plan 'threatens our industry's future'

AMC Entertainment on Friday became the latest exhibitor to rattle its saber over the planned premium VOD rollout later this month by a clutch of major studios.

In a statement, the nation’s second-largest theater chain said: “We have notified studios of our expectations regarding economic arrangements on movies that go premium VOD.”

AMC’s statement did not go into specifics but noted that the shortening of release windows “threaten our industry’s future, it is only logical to expect AMC to adapt its economic model.”

Late last week, Variety reported that Warner Bros., Sony, 20th and Universal planned to rollout $30 VOD offerings for selected titles that would be available 60 days after the initial theatrical release. The plan has, not surprisingly, generated strong opposition from exhibitors concerned about premium VOD eating into ticket sales.

AMC said it continued to predict a “bright future” for the theatrical experience, while “aggressively investing to prepare for it.”

The talk of exhibitor backlash to the VOD plan has primarily centered on threats to pull trailers for pics bound for VOD, though it’s still unclear how exhibs will know which trailers to remove, especially since studios won’t decide on most VOD films until after trial theatrical play.

Regal, the largest exhib, made similar threats earlier this week.

“The premium VOD world as currently defined threatens” the health of exhibitors, AMC said.

“We are in the midst of a multi-year, multi-million dollar rollout of digital projection and 3D, IMAX and our own proprietary ETX format,” the statement said. “We are also introducing a new guest rewards program, better-for-you items, enhanced food and beverage offerings, dine-in theatre options and alternative, engaging programming for our guests to enjoy in our comfortable, state-of-the-art auditoriums.”

“The future is bright, even as it promises to be different, and we look forward to the success that lies ahead for all parties.”

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