Universal Pictures has just signed a new deal with American movie theater chain AMC Entertainment that reduces the time it takes for movies to be released digitally after they have screened in theaters. This landmark agreement will mean that new blockbusters will be available on digital platforms such as iTunes and the Apple TV app only 17 days after their theatrical release.
The current time frame stipulates that movies produced by Universal and played in AMC theaters can only be released on VOD after 75 days, in other words over two months. From now on, Universal productions will be available online in less than three weeks.
With the current health crisis, Universal Pictures already experimented with posting its productions directly online, notably with Trolls World Tour, which was released directly via streaming platforms in the United States. AMC didn’t appreciate this move and threatened to stop showing Universal movies in its theaters. However, due to the closure of almost all cinemas because of the pandemic, it has become essential to release movies online as quickly as possible.
While a standard movie available on VOD costs about $5 in the US, Universal charges $20 for renting new releases online. This is a reasonable fee if you want to watch a movie with your family or friends.
While the agreement made between Universal and AMC has been signed due to the current health crisis, one cannot exclude the possibility that relationships between studios and cinemas will be permanently changed in the near future. In fact, Universal has stated that the company will “continue to explore such strategies”.