AMC Theatres is getting into the streaming video business. The theater chain has announced AMC Theatres On Demand, a new video-on-demand platform that will rent and sell digital movies. At present, the service won't include any free streaming video, but it also won't require a subscription to use it. The platform went live this week and will allow the company to get into the digital video space.

Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Sony and Paramount, the five biggest studios in Hollywood, have all made content deals with AMC for the new service. Both catalog titles and new releases will be available from all five studios. Rental titles will generally cost between $3 and $6, with movies available for purchase from between $10 and $20. This pricing puts the business model right in line with other services in the space, such as VUDU or iTunes. Ron Sanders, president of worldwide distribution and home entertainment for Warner Bros. had this to say about the service.

"For us, it's all upside. Most of our other big digital partners are focused on multiple categories, music, books. The great thing about AMC is that movies are the whole focus."

At launch, AMC Theatres On Demand is available on LG Smart TVs, Windows and Mac computers, Android and iOS devices and Roku devices. The service is not currently available on video game consoles, such as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, but it's likely the service will port over at some point in the future. AMC Stubs A-List members can also earn points for rentals or purchases made via the new service. Adam Aron, AMC's president and chief executive, had this to say in a statement.

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"Our theater business is mature. There is a high-growth opportunity in this digital expansion."

AMC is the largest theatre chain in the U.S., making a move like this into the digital space a logical one. Not only because virtually every other company that deals with movies is diversifying its business similarly, but because theatre chains are likely going to face an "adapt or die" moment of truth in the coming years. Studios still have to offer a traditional 90-day exclusive window for major releases in theaters, meaning those titles can't be made available to rent or purchase online until they've played exclusively in theaters for at least 90 days. However, that is changing and it's not expected that same window will last forever.

Netflix, for example, has increasingly been pushing into the theatrical space and because its titles wind up on streaming so quickly, there is a demand for new, big movies in the home video market at earlier stages. AMC has, understandably, been reluctant to agree to shorter theatrical windows, as it could harm the company's business in the long run. But a move like this could offer some sort of insurance policy. To learn more about AMC Theatres On Demand, head on over to AMCTheatres.com.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott