AMC Theaters have made their feelings known about Warner Bros' release plan for their films in 2021. The decision to premiere their movies on HBO Max on the same day they open in theaters shocked many on Thursday, especially those in the theater industry. According to Variety, Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC Entertainment, shared his opposition to Warner expanding their proposal for Wonder Woman 1984 to all films on their schedule in 2021.
"These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height," Aron said. "However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover."
For Aron, he views the new decision by Warner as an attempt to have the theater industry "subsidize" HBO Max. This flies in contrast to many in the industry and their view that this is the film industry's eventual future.
"Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up," he continued. "As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business. We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject."
The film and entertainment industry has been hard hit by the pandemic since March, with theaters attempting to re-open several times with no success, while film studios tried to find a way to release their films profitably. Elsewhere in the world, theaters have been working as usual with coronavirus guidelines in order. The United States has not had that type of success against the virus, with box office totals suffering and theaters struggling to adapt.
According to reports in October, AMC is close to bankruptcy and warned that they are running low on funds. As CNBC reports, the company reportedly agreed to the sale of 15 million stock shares and hinged on the hopes of a COVID vaccine to restart cash flow.
"We will require significant amounts of additional liquidity and there is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern for a reasonable period of time; holders of our Class A common stock could suffer a total loss of their investment," the company wrote in an SEC filing.
Warner Bros. decision doesn't seem to be something they will easily walk back. Ann Sarnoff, the Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios, described the move why the company decided to pull the trigger on the streaming plan.0comments
"We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group," she said. "No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do...With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren't quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we're extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances."
Now the lines are being drawn and many are looking at other studios for their decisions in the coming weeks. Will Disney or Paramount follow the plan laid by Warner? Does AMC have the leverage to make a change to benefit their business? We shall see.