“Regal is not boycotting Universal nor any other studio,” Regal tweeted. “We will continue our normal policy and play movies that respect the theatrical window, allowing movies to be released first in theatres prior to streaming or VOD platforms.”
In March, Universal made the landmark decision to release Trolls World Tour on premium video on demand in light of theater closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. While this proved to be a financial win for Universal, it led to outrage from the National Association of Theater Owners and the equally landmark move by AMC Theatres to ban Universal films in 1,000 cinemas after NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said the studio plans to release movies in both formats after the shutdown. In response, Universal doubled down on its decision, saying “we believe we made the right move.”
Following this, Cineworld issued a statement of its own saying, “we will not be showing movies that fail to respect the windows as it does not make any economic sense for us.” However, several news outlets misinterpreted this as Cineworld following suit with AMC and banning Universal films from Regal Cinemas altogether.
That said, Shell has since gone on the record to say the PVOD day and date model is designed to be “complementary” to theatrical releases and not a “replacement.” It was also noted that distribution would be determined on a “title-by-title basis,” so should Universal opt to release select films on PVOD day and date with the theatrical release, it’s entirely possible Regal would refuse to play them.
Regal Cinemas has clarified that Cineworld's comments about respecting theatrical windows don't mean it's banning Universal Pictures films.