AMC & Regal Partnering on New Acquisition/Distribution Company
This is major news that we really didn't see coming. The LA Times is reporting on a joint venture between Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment, two of the leading movie theater chains in the US. Regal and AMC are launching a new company to acquire and release independent movies. They haven't acquired any yet, but they have hired a CEO: Tom Ortenberg, a former senior exec for the Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate, who has been working as a consultant recently. This is an very intriguing concept if it works, since it would give these theaters a big distribution advantage separate from the Hollywood studio system.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, this won't destroy relationships between theaters and studios. "People familiar with the plan said the joint venture will not compete with the studios by acquiring big-budget event films. Instead, the new company will seek out independently financed movies that may not otherwise make it into theaters, such as low-budget dramas, comedies and horror pictures." Yet another indie acquisition company. To me, one of the problems with distribution nowadays is that films aren't in enough theaters, and I'm not sure limiting it to only AMC and Regal theaters will help. However, they mention that their films "will also be offered to other cinemas," so it will basically still be its own distribution company.
Those of you that usually go to any of the big chains like AMC, Regal, Cinemark or Rave know that most of these theaters already have some sort of independent program either called AMC Independent or CineArts or something like that, that tries to bring independent films to more theaters anyway. The exhibitors have been dabbling in the indie world for a little while because I think they do recognize the value of releasing these art house kind of films that people want to see because they're actually damn good (and often better than most of what Hollywood puts out). "AMC & Regal hope in part that by acquiring their own movies for distribution they will fill the supply-and-demand gap created by Hollywood's downshift in moviemaking."
It's interesting to see more and more non-Hollywood companies and various smart businesspeople try their hand at movie distribution, beyond just the typical "we buy and release movies" kind of independent studio. There are other people who own corporations like Viacom that both make movies and distribute them, but no partnership like this between two major chains has ever existed before. I'm very curious to see this come together, what kind of films they buy, and if the distribution plan actually works out. It's definitely going to open doors and plow the way in terms of more distribution concepts like this to come. Will it be a success?