It was a unique event and theater owners eager to fill screens with engaging content happily agreed. “Given that atypical circumstances require atypical studio-to-theater commercial relationships, as well as atypical windows and release strategies, AMC is fully on board for Warner Brothers’ announcement today,” said Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment.
He welcomed this practice much less for an entire year, which gives theaters no additional incentive.
“WarnerMedia clearly intends to sacrifice a significant portion of the profitability of its film studio division – and that of its production partners and filmmakers – to subsidize the HBO Max startup,” said Aron in an email. “As for AMC, we will do everything in our power to ensure Warner does this at our expense. We have already entered into an immediate and urgent dialogue with Warner leadership on this matter. “
Another major theater chain, Cinemark, said they were surprised. “Given the current operating environment, we are making short-term booking decisions on a film basis,” said a Cinemark spokesman. “At this point, Warner Bros. has not provided details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films.”
The Warner Bros. plan is in stark contrast to the plan pursued by Universal Pictures, which has agreed to continue giving the theaters an exclusive period of at least three weeks. Universal has signed contracts with AMC, Cinemark and Canada’s top exhibitor Cineplex to allow films to be shown exclusively in theaters for at least 17 days before switching to premium video-on-demand. The theater chains each receive a reduction in the income from the sale of PVOD.
In her statement, Ms. Sarnoff said Warner Bros. was “very grateful to our filmmakers for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances”. This was news for many of the company’s partners, including Legendary Pictures, the production company behind Godzilla vs. Kong “. Legendary and other producers were not consulted and only notified at the last minute (if at all), resulting in a day of angry phone calls behind the scenes.
Mr Kilar said filmmakers should be encouraged by this new way of releasing films.
“I have great faith in the theater model and I have great faith in the subscription model,” said Kilar. “In many ways, you could see a future where budgets and ambitions keep growing because what you make more convenient tends to be used more often.”