‘The King of Staten Island’ Abruptly Pulled From Drive-In Theaters
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Two days before cinemas were due to premiere The King of Staten Island, a new comic drama by Judd Apatow and Pete Davidson, cinemas across the country were abruptly informed that they could not show the film.
The semi-autobiographical view of Davidson's upbringing in New York City was originally intended to debut in a limited number of theaters - mostly drive-ins - that stayed open during the coronavirus pandemic and could start over premium videos on demand Platforms.
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The news has caused dismay and even outrage in the close community of drive-in operators, many of whom have promoted seasons and sold tickets to The King of Staten Island.
Now they had to offer refunds and scramble to find new content that could be displayed at short notice. Universal did not give the exhibitors any reasons for the hasty decision.
"There was no explanation. They changed their minds, ”complained an independent theater owner on condition of anonymity.
Another cinema operator adds: “Customers who bought tickets online and showed up at 7 p.m. on Thursday caused a significant amount of resentment. Show."
Universal insiders have made it an internal misunderstanding, saying that "The King of Staten Island" should only ever be premiered on demand. However, some executives have inadvertently booked the film in around 100 cinemas. When they noticed the mistake, the studio went back to the cinemas and asked them not to play it.
Apatow cleared up the misunderstanding on Twitter and said, “THIS IS A MISTAKE. THE KING OF STATES ISLAND OPENS ONLY ON VOD FRIDAY. IT DOES NOT OPEN IN THEATERS. "When a user on Twitter pointed out that a local theater was showing the film, Apatow said:" It is not played there. It is a mistake. It is only on VOD. "
Universal had the most controversial relationship with the exhibition community among all major Hollywood studios. The studio's decision in April to forego a traditional movie release for "Trolls World Tour" and to release the animated family film on demand was harshly criticized by John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners, the main lobbyist for the exhibition industry . The studio's participation in a puff in the Wall Street Journal, in which CEO Jeff Shell said that "Trolls World Tour" raised $ 100 million in three weeks, added more salt to the wound. In response, AMC Theaters, the country's largest cinema chain, threatened to stop showing universal films. In a recent call for profits, AMC CEO Adam Aron downplayed the sharpness and said: “Relationships with Universal are warm. Relationships with Universal have always been warm. At Universal there is nothing personal about this topic ... it's all about money. "
On Thursday, theaters such as Warwick Drive-In in New York and Rustic Tri View Drive-In in Rhode Island posted news about the cancellation and refund policies for “The King of Staten Island” on Facebook. The Fair Oaks Drive-In Theater in New York announced that a double screening of "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" will be shown instead of the Davidson comedy.
Even before Universal abruptly revoked permission to show “The King of Staten Island,” the studio had alienated some theater owners by insisting on profit sharing conditions that were considered incriminating. Universal wanted to share ticket sales with theater owners, which is traditionally the case with major releases. However, the theater owners felt that these conditions were too generous because "The King of Staten Island" will be available online.
"They wanted the conditions for 2019 under the conditions of 2020," said the independent theater owner. "This is a new landscape."
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