AMC Theatres CEO Understands Disney's Decision To Release 'Mulan' On VOD, In Stark Contrast To 'Trolls' Reaction

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has begun to change the way movies are released and the way audiences consume media, theater chains are starting to change their tunes. AMC Theatres, in particular, is responding to Disney's decision to give a day-and-date release for its mega-blockbuster Mulan on VOD and in select theaters with a dramatically different reaction to Universal doing something similar with Trolls World Tour five months ago. In a recent interview, AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron even showed an understanding for the Mulan VOD release, empathizing with Disney's decision.

The Walt Disney Company might have angered some movie theater owners with its announcement that it would make Mulan available to purchase on Disney+, but AMC CEO Adam Aron was understanding of the decision, he said in a call to investors and analysts, per Variety.

"Just like AMC is under duress, Disney's under pressure too, and at some point they've got to monetize their movie product."

Aron said that he hoped Disney would consider adopting a model similar to Universal, which recently made a deal with AMC to show movies in theaters for a 17-day window before moving to VOD or streaming.

Aron's comments are strikingly different from his attitude just five months ago. When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered theaters across the nation, Universal opted to release Trolls World Tour on-demand, prompting AMC to threaten a ban on the studio's films. "This policy affects any and all Universal movies per se, goes into effect today and as our theatres reopen, and is not some hollow or ill-considered threat," Aron said of the ban at the time, which has since been revoked since AMC and Universal's historic deal.

"We would not have signed on to an economic program that we thought was a negative," Aron later said, referring to that deal. He added that because AMC was the first major exhibitor to agree to a shortened theatrical window, its deal would be "richer," Variety reports. While Aron's comments do suggest that the executive has changed his tune mostly due to the company's deal with Universal, it is interesting that Disney isn't getting as much backlash from major exhibitors as other studios did. While smaller theaters are unhappy, as a major blockbuster like Mulan would have promised a bump in flagging sales, major exhibitors have mostly remained silent.

Directed by Niki Caro, Mulan arrives on Disney+ and in select theaters on September 4, 2020.