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AMC and Universal agree to let movies go from theaters to digital rentals much sooner

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AMC Theaters and Universal have reached a new agreement that dramatically shortens the theatrical exclusivity window — the amount of time that films have to play in theaters before they’re allowed to be sold or rented in other places, like iTunes, Amazon, or AMC’s own On Demand service — down to just 17 days (ensuring that the films will hit at least three weekends in theaters).

The new deal marks a radical shift from the standard theatrical release window, which has typically been between 70 and 90 days in recent years, and could vastly alter the landscape of both theatrical and digital film.

Universal and AMC had previously been feuding over release windows after Universal — spurred on by the direct-to-digital success of films like Trolls: World Tour, which had skipped theaters due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — planned to release future films on both digital and theatrical platforms. AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron responded by calling Universal’s plan “unacceptable,” and threatened to ban all future Universal releases from AMC Theaters (although, given that theaters have yet to reopen, AMC never actually had to make good on that threat).

It’s not a completely straightforward shortening of the theatrical window. According to Variety, the deal only allows Universal to offer “premium on-demand” rentals in the roughly $20 range — regular priced $3 to $6 rentals (which could vastly undercut theater tickets) will still have to wait 90 days after the theatrical debut. That term would seem to also undercut the possibility of films jumping earlier to streaming services, like NBCUniversal’s new Peacock service. Additionally, Aron notes that AMC will “share in these new revenue streams” and get a cut of those early rentals, although the two companies haven’t revealed any details.

“The theatrical experience continues to be the cornerstone of our business,” commented Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, in a statement to CNBC. “The partnership we’ve forged with AMC is driven by our collective desire to ensure a thriving future for the film distribution ecosystem and to meet consumer demand with flexibility and optionality.”

Universal has the opportunity to offer early releases for any of its films, although the company isn’t expected to dramatically shorten the theatrical run of big blockbusters like the upcoming Fast & Furious or Jurassic Park sequels (which historically have been huge, $1 billion blockbusters). But it does give Universal the flexibility to release its smaller films earlier, and it gives customers the option to choose where they’d like to see those films (something that will likely be important as gradual reopening of theaters begins).

Right now, the new shortened window is just between Universal films and AMC, although by setting the precedent, it’s hard to imagine that other major studios like Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, and Paramount won’t try to negotiate similar terms in the future, too.

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Movies

AMC Theaters is learning to embrace the streaming era, not fight it

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AMC Theaters faced its “most challenging quarter in the company’s 100-year history,” but CEO Adam Aron is trying to look forward, using the company’s second quarter earnings call today to address how AMC is going to compete in a streaming-focused world.

AMC announced last week that it struck a groundbreaking deal with Universal Pictures that would let the studio place films on digital rental services like iTunes or Amazon just 17 days after they hit theaters. Aron confirmed on the call that if Universal decides to take advantage of the shorter window, those movies will continue to play in theaters. There was confusion last week as to whether AMC would pull its films completely after 17 days or just offer people both options. Prior to the deal, studios were forced to either keep their films in theaters for months at a time, or forego a theatrical release entirely. As part of the deal, AMC will receive some payment for movies that are rented at home.

“Some of our competitors are anxious about this change,” Aron said on the call, as reported by Deadline. “Change is difficult for some to cope with.”

Although Aron is embracing the rapid shift to streaming now, he was singing a different tune a few months ago. After Universal Pictures decided to pull its animated film Trolls World Tour from theaters because of the pandemic in March — which would kick off a chain of events that saw studios like Warner Bros. and Disney do the same — Aron originally said AMC would ban Universal movies in its theaters.

The threat drew eye rolls as people quickly pointed out that AMC wasn’t going to sit out on two of Universal’s biggest upcoming films, including the ninth Fast and Furious movie — F9 and Jurassic World: Dominion. Fate of the Furious, the eighth installment in the Fast and Furious franchise, grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide, with both the first two Jurassic World movies also grossing more than $1 billion worldwide. AMC, whose earnings this quarter were down 98 percent year over year, couldn’t afford to refuse movies from any one studio. That’s especially true when it’s Universal.

What became clear is that Aron and AMC Theaters couldn’t afford to ignore how big a business premium streaming has become; the pandemic accelerated a reality that was going to arrive either way. Studios want their films in theaters, but also want to be able to sell titles to audiences at home. The new rules are trying to keep one from cannibalizing the other, like how trailers for an upcoming movie can’t promote that it’ll be available to stream at home. That’s because Universal can’t market a movie hitting digital retailers until 10 days after the movie’s initial release, according to the new rules.

To be clear: AMC is learning to accept streaming as long as it can also profit from the situation. We don’t know how the revenue breakdown for AMC looks, although Aron said “the company would be compensated for every rental,” according to Variety. How the exact deal is structured remains unclear, Variety added. This is different from a situation where AMC is left out completely, like a studio bypassing a theatrical release entirely to stream exclusively on a platform like HBO Max or Disney Plus, for example.

“I’m expecting that this is going to become an industry standard,” Aron said, as reported by Variety. “I expect that some of our competitors will do this, if not all.”

Universal isn’t the only studio AMC’s eyeing, Aron also confirmed. The CEO spoke about Disney’s recent decision to bring Mulan, one of the company’s most anticipated tentpole films, to its Disney Plus streaming service where it could, but still release it in theaters where Disney Plus doesn’t operate. Instead of calling out Disney, Aron noted that “just like AMC is under duress, Disney’s under pressure too,” adding that “at some point they’ve got to monetize their movie product.” Still, he added that he hopes Disney will agree to similar terms as those in the company’s deal with Universal. (Disney CEO Bob Chapek called Mulan’s move to Disney Plus — where it will be available for an extra $30 — a one-time deal.)

Considering that AMC Theaters lost more than half a billion dollars this quarter, Aron is looking to the future positively. The CEO has acknowledged that the theatrical window (a period of exclusivity) is gone. Aron seems to think the way forward for AMC, and the industry, is to embrace that streaming isn’t going away, but it is a business they can get in on. Plus, people are always going to want to go see certain movies in a theater, he argued. That includes movies like Warner Bros. Tenet, which will play exclusively in theaters instead of being released digitally — a decision that Aron commended.

“There are certain advantages to watching a film on a 40-foot screen to watching it on a 40-inch screen,” Aron said. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people will do anything to get out of their house or their apartment. If you told me right now I could go spend three hours at a hardware store, I would tell you that’s an exciting afternoon.”

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Celebrities

Cameron Diaz Says Walking Away From Acting ‘Was Like a Cleansing’

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Being true to herself. Cameron Diaz opened up about her decision to retire from acting in 2018, after losing part of who she was through the work.

“A peace. I got a peace in my soul because I finally was taking care of myself,” Diaz, 47, told Gwyneth Paltrow in the Wednesday, August 5, episode of “In Goop Health: The Sessions” video series. “I feel grounded and light.”

The Charlie’s Angels actress, who hasn’t starred in a movie since 2014, noted that “it’s a strange thing to say” and that a “lot of people won’t understand” why she announced her retirement two years ago.

Cameron Diaz Says She Had ‘Peace in My Soul’ After Walking Away From Acting
Cameron Diaz Courtesy Cameron Diaz/Instagram

“It’s so intense to work at that level and be that public and put yourself out there,” Diaz explained. “There’s a lot of energy coming at you at all times when you’re really visible as an actor. I’m sensitive to some energy and not others. I do get the overwhelming energy of the attention that’s being put toward me.”

At one point, the California native, who married Good Charlotte rocker Benji Madden in 2015, said she paused and examined what her world outside of acting included and she wasn’t happy with what she saw.

“I really looked at my life and I saw what I had been — when you’re making a movie, it’s the perfect excuse, they own you — and I realized I handed off parts of my life to all these other people,” she said. “They took it. I basically had to take it back and take responsibility for my life.”

The new mom, who welcomed daughter Raddix in December 2019 via surrogate with husband Madden, 41, doesn’t regret her choice. “It was like a cleansing,” she noted.

The Avaline wine cofounder further explained that because actors are “infantilized” and taken care of constantly she had to break free.

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“Overwhelming your life becomes so narrow. Everybody’s doing things for you and you’re catered around,” the Mask star told Paltrow, 47. “I never felt really, truly comfortable with that. I understood it was part of the job, and for me, I needed to become self-sufficient again.”

She added: “I really needed to know that I could take care of myself [and to learn] that I knew how to be an adult.”

After switching her life course, Diaz leaned on her husband and had to really figure out how she wanted to function moving forward.

“I learned a lot about myself. It’s painful. It hurts. It’s scary,” she revealed. “I credit Benj a lot. I broke that mirror about a thousand times when he put it up to me.”

Diaz first described herself as “actually retired” during an Entertainment Weekly interview in March 2018 alongside her The Sweetest Thing costars, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair. The Bad Teacher actress told fans during an Instagram Live chat in May 2020 that she’s “not going to do more films at the moment.”

Listen to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories! Source: US Magazine

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Jana Kramer Breaks Down, Reveals Her Pneumonia Has Paused Movie Filming

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Working woes. Jana Kramer broke down and cried after being told she has early symptoms of pneumonia, which caused filming to stop on her new movie.

“Real talk, I’m really upset right now,” Kramer, 36, told her fans via an Instagram Story on Wednesday, August 5. “I just got back from the ER. I have pneumonitis, which is early on pneumonia.”

The One Tree Hill alum tried to hold back tears as she described her symptoms from her bed.

“I was having a really hard time breathing. I got tested again for COVID, it is negative again, so somehow whatever my head cold [was] went into my lungs,” she explained.

Jana Kramer Breaks Down, Reveals Her Pneumonia Has Paused Movie Filming 2
Jana Kramer Matt Baron/Shutterstock

The mother of two said that “production has been amazing” following her emergency room visit, but she revealed she feels “terrible of course” about not being able to work.

“I’m just so upset about it. I’m going to rest for the two or three days. Take a bunch of medicines,” Kramer said, noting she’s taking a social media break in the meantime.

She added: “I’m going to be off here for a minute, because If not, I’m going to continue to be upset, because I’m not working. Love you guys. Sorry for the sob story, but I just wanted you to know why I’m going dark.”

The country singer reiterated her decision to “go dark” in an Instagram Story caption.

“There is nothing more upsetting then finally getting the chance to work and then randomly getting pneumonia which I have NEVER had,” Kramer wrote alongside her video explanation on Wednesday. “But I’ve got meds, I’ve got the best movie producers and team that are giving me the time off I need so thank you!!”

Jana Kramer Breaks Down, Reveals Her Pneumonia Has Paused Movie Filming
Jana Kramer Courtesy of Jana Kramer/Instagram

On day prior, the Christmas in Louisiana star shared an Instagram Story clip alongside her new movie love interest, Brandon Quinn, with her fans. Production on the upcoming project began on Monday, August 3.

“I booked a movie and I am so excited to start filming!!!! What kind of movie are you hoping it is?!?!” Kramer teased on Instagram in July ahead of the gig’s start.

The Michigan native has been trying to keep busy and add to her resume amid the coronavirus pandemic before booking the aforementioned unnamed movie last month.

“I wasn’t sure if I could say it, but we might have auditioned for a certain Housewives thing,” Kramer revealed on the July 14 episode of her and husband Mike Caussin’s “Whine Down” podcast.

The couple tried out for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills while at home during the pandemic, but the “Untouchable” singer said “we haven’t heard back yet.”

The Dancing With the Stars alum’s desire to work during the pandemic led to a “panic attack” after she traveled at the beginning of shutdowns earlier in the year. After landing in Canada to film a movie in March, Kramer got a lot of backlash for flying amid fears of the illness spreading worldwide.

“The second I landed in Canada, I had like the worst anxiety ever,” Kramer told Us Weekly exclusively in April. “I kept hearing, like, more things that were happening and more cases, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, like, we made the wrong decision and I just brought my kids here. What were they thinking? Like, holy crap.’”

The actress explained that she was “shaking, having a panic attack” as she thought about her choice to travel internationally at the time. The producers ultimately pulled the plug on the project and Kramer packed up and headed back to Nashville.

“The second I got home I was like, ‘I’m good. We’re home.’ The anxiety is still there, obviously, but not anywhere near [what it was],” the Christmas in Mississippi star said.

Listen to Us Weekly’s Hot Hollywood as each week the editors of Us break down the hottest entertainment news stories! Source: US Magazine

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