AMC, Regal partner on movie acquisition and distribution

It’s hard not to read the news that AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment are partnering on a new joint venture (Los Angeles Times, 2/10/11)  to acquire and distribute independent movies and have the following handful of thoughts:

First, this is the exhibitors reacting to studios plans to get into “premium” on-demand home video distribution themselves and cutting theatrical release windows as they do so. What’s interesting though is that instead of sticking with their traditional exhibition strength they’re deciding to instead become studios themselves, albeit one that acquires and doesn’t do (at least for the time being) original production itself.

Second, I’m not sure how this brave new world where distributor/exhibitor lines are all different sorts of blurred as being a return to the days prior to the 1948 US Vs. Paramount case that ended the old studio system and prohibited studios from also owning movie theaters, an arrangement that used to give them almost complete control of the vertical.

Third, it will be interesting to see what sort of movies this new entity winds up acquiring. While the independent film market could certainly use a new buyer right now I’m anxious to see if movies that are truly challenging and truly “independent” are actually picked up or if it’s going to be mostly movies that are easier to sell to middle America. And similarly I’m incredibly anxious to see what sort of marketing is done for these movies.

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