2020 has been a year of great strain in the relationship between movie studios and theater chains. With almost every major movie either postponed by several months or released online, theaters have been on life support for months. AMC has been a particularly fierce opponent of studios wishing to release their movies online before a theatrical release. In a surprising about-face, AMC Entertainment CEO and President Adam Aron released a statement in support of Warner Bros.' decision to release Wonder Woman 1984 online at the same time as its theatrical release.
"For many months, AMC has been in active and deep dialogue with Warner Bror. to figure out how best this cinematic blockbuster could be seen at AMC Theatres in these unprecedented times. Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theatres, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers' announcement today."
The change in AMC's attitude can be the result of a number of factors. There is the fact that Wonder Woman 1984 will release in theaters alongside its HBO Max release, so theaters will be getting at least some of the money from audiences. Then there is the fact that a number of COVID vaccines have been announced in the past few days, leading to hope that the global health emergency might ease in the next few months, allowing movies and viewers to return to theaters.
Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, AMC Theatres previously tried fighting Universal's decision to release Trolls World Tour online instead of in theaters. Not only did AMC lose that battle, but the movie went on to make around $100 million through PVOD sales alone.
Perhaps the theater chain giant has accepted that the shift to streaming for film content is the inevitable future, and the smart choice is in embracing that change and trying to adapt to it. In any case, Aron added in his statement that his company still believes in the theatrical movie-watching experience.
"AMC continues to believe that exclusive theatrical releases benefit consumers, filmmakers, studios and exhibitors. Even so, we also have clearly demonstrated this year that we are flexible and remain open to evolving long-standing business models, provided that we do so in ways that improve the industry ecosystem for all players. We have instituted novel approaches with other movie studios this year. We are doing so again, this time with Warner Brothers to facilitate the specific release of this important movie. We hope movie lovers enjoy Wonder Woman 1984 during the holidays this year at AMC."
Directed and co-written by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman 1984 features Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, and Natasha Rothwell. The film arrives in theaters and HBO Max on December 25, while debuting theatrically in international markets starting on December 16. The film will be available for a month on HBO Max in the U.S. included at no additional cost. This news comes from Variety.