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AMC banned Comcast/Universal films from its theaters

This was inevitable...

AMC Theaters said publicly it will no longer show films made by Universal Pictures. This is over a dispute on the merits of releasing movies in theaters before allowing studios to release on streaming platforms.

The film that finally caused this separation was Trolls World Tour, which has made nearly $100 million in the past three weeks in digital sales, according to The Wall Street Journal.

That $100 million is more revenue than Universal reported for the original Trolls domestic theatrical haul.

There's no denying how impressive the opening for Trolls World Tour has been in these unprecedented times, but this does bring a new element into the continued threat that streaming platforms are creating for the movie theater business.

I don’t think this will ultimately lead to theaters eventually going away or studios severing their ties, but the business side of the industry is getting interesting. Universal has said it plans to re-release Trolls World Tour in theaters when those businesses are allowed to open, but this digital release has raised a lot of eyebrows.

With a rise of streaming and on-demand video platforms, several studios juggle with what a good “theatrical window” is for a film's release. That’s basically the length of time a movie plays in theaters before its release on digital and disc.

Several high-profile figures in Hollywood have maintained this balance of streaming and theatrical releases to keep the familiarity of old Hollywood and this new world of digital platforms and streaming.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a curveball to the industry with studios like Universal Pictures releasing films like The Invisible Man and The Hunt to popular on-demand platforms. Universal also has delayed potential blockbuster films like the Fast & Furious 9 to give them a proper theatrical release.

Trolls World Tour was an “exception,” according to Universal Pictures in the company's hope to “deliver entertainment to people who are sheltering at home." But could this be the new normal? Going to a movie, in theaters, with a family of four on a Friday night, including popcorn, would set you back nearly $60 in Reno. In Los Angeles, that number is closer to $80. Who wouldn’t want to spend a mere $20 to stream the film at home with the freedom to pause and feast at their own leisure?

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