The decision, and threats from other large theater chains to do the same, were made after a remark from NBCUniversal's CEO, Jeff Shell, stating NBCUniversal would release “Trolls World Tour” on VOD services on the same day it would appear in theaters. The “Trolls World Tour” made USD 100 million in VOD revenue and USD 347 million globally in box-office revenue during its release in 2016.


AMC Theatres announced that it will no longer play Universal Pictures movies in its theaters. The decision followed remarks from NBCUniversal’s CEO, Jeff Shell to The Wall Street Journal, during a conversation about the movie studio’s $100 million hauls in video-on-demand revenues rentals for “Trolls World Tour," a movie once intended to premiere in movie theaters. "The results for the ‘Trolls World Tour’ have exceeded our expectations and demonstrated the viability of PVOD,” Shell said. “As soon as theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats.”

That last remark led Adam Aron, Chairman-CEO of AMC Theaters, to send a letter to NBCUniversal, calling Shell’s remarks “unacceptable” and that AMC Theaters would "no longer play any Universal movies in any of our theaters in the United States, Europe or the Middle East,” according to reports. Movie theaters usually have a 90-day exclusivity period for studio films before they are released on any other TV and home-entertainment platforms. The “Trolls World Tour” made USD 100 million in VOD revenue, which is comparable to the USD 116 million the first “Trolls” movie made in its first three weeks in 2016. It ended up racking in USD 153.7 million in U.S. box-office revenue and USD 347 million globally, according to IMDb’s BoxOfficeMojo.

Due to COVID-19 issues, which resulted in the closure of movie theaters in mid-March, NBCUniversal said it would release “Trolls World Tour” on home VOD services. Other movie studios decided to delay releasing movies until theaters reopened. Some studio films, which were in theaters when the stay-at-home orders began, put those movies on video-on-demand services sooner than intended. With movie theaters closing down, some analysts have surmised AMC Theatres, and perhaps other chains might be forced to file for bankruptcy.

The controversial announcement angered several of North America's largest movie theater chains, who accused Universal of attempting to erode the historic symbiotic relationship shared between studios and theaters in search of a higher share of the profits. Regal Entertainment's parent company Cineworld Group stood in solidarity with AMC Wednesday, warning Universal the chain will 'not be showing movies that fail to respect' theater release windows.