Iron Man 3

Nation's second-largest theater chain reaches deal with Disney

Regal Entertainment and AMC Entertainment, the nation’s largest and second-largest theater chains have reached a deal with Disney to resume selling tickets for “Iron Man 3.”

“After some extensive talks with Disney, we’re glad to say that Tony Stark will definitely be in our theaters for ‘Iron Man 3,'” Regal posted on its Facebook page. “We’ve got Fandango working overtime right now to place tickets back on sale at all Regal Cinemas, United Artists and Edwards Theaters.”

AMC issued a statement saying, “We thank our partners at Disney for working with us to achieve economical terms so we can present our guests with one of the biggest blockbusters of 2013 and solidly kick off the summer movie season.” “Iron Man 3″ will open at 9 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, and AMC is also holding an “Iron Man” marathon that night.

The terms of the deals were not known.

The exhibs stopped selling advanced tickets for the Marvel tentpole after Disney tried to use the film as leverage for higher box office shares, reportedly at around 65%. It’s not unusual, however, for studios to use their biggest summer blockbusters as a bargaining tool with exhibs.

In additon to Regal and AMC, the nation’s third-largest chain, Cinemark, also stopped selling advanced tickets for “Iron Man 3,” which opens domestically May 3.

It’s unclear how the boycott has affected “Iron Man 3″ across the three major chains. For an AMC comparison, Marvel’s “The Avengers,” which also bowed the first weekend in May, sold more than 30,000 tickets for midnight screenings (including a Marvel marathon) that totaled north of $4 million.

From a studio standpoint, the dispute over increased box office shares comes as a way to make up for ballooning marketing and production costs. Typically, studios and exhibs split box office grosses 50/50, a ratio that’s been set for several years.

Exhibitor costs, on the other hand, also have gone up substantially over the past decade with each new technological upgrade, such as digital conversion and 4K laser projection. (Studios pay virtual print fees for the former, however.)

The scuffle surrounding “Iron Man 3″ is meant to impact deals for future Disney releases, as well. Advanced tickets for “Iron Man 3″ initially went on sale April 5.

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