Could the disagreement between Vue and Universal be over? Quite possibly – at least for now.
Over the past week or so, we’ve been following the quiet story of Vue Cinemas, and a generally unreported ongoing dispute it appeared to be having with Universal Pictures.
The short version (and there’s a longer one here): Vue had no showings of Mary Queen Of Scots and very few of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Universal’s two hit releases of 2019 thus far.
At the heart of the dispute is believed to be revenue split terms. That Vue has been aggressive in discounting admission prices over the last year, and the studios – Vue was in similar dispute with Warner Bros last year – don’t believe they should fund that. This is all piecing together the story, rather than an officially commented on announcement. But basically, Vue taking less money for a cinema ticket on existing terms means less money for the companies making the films. This has caused ‘disagreements’.
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The dispute over a ticket price revenue split, then, spilled over again early this year, with Vue holding firm and either not programming Universal movies, or offering significantly fewer screenings than other chains.
However, quietly, it looks like the matter has been cleaned up for the time being.
This coming weekend’s schedules have started to be released for Vue sites, and there are around four times as many screenings of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World as there were at Vue last weekend. This mirrors what happened with A Star Is Born last year, when Vue and Warner Bros were at loggerheads. Things there were resolved after a week or so.
Furthermore, Vue is also programming Universal’s new weekend release, Boy Erased, with no obvious problem.
The next big release from the studio is the horror sequel Happy Death Day 2U, and that’ll be the next litmus test. But signs are at the moment that some accord between the two parties has been reached.