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WIRE Buzz: AMC theaters staying open; Thomas the Tank Engine movie; The Swarm

By Josh Weiss
AMC Theaters

Following the announcement that Cineworld would be closing all of its theater locations between the U.S. and U.K., AMC (the world's largest theater chain) assured movie-goers that it would remain open amid the ongoing health crisis. The company is reportedly in better shape than its competitors for two reasons: 1) a debt agreement that keeps it financially stable until 2021 and 2) a PVOD deal with Universal that allows the studio to release theatrical movies onto home video platforms just 17 days after they open in theaters. As part of the deal, AMC will share in some of the on-demand profits.

“Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theaters when others may feel the need to close," AMC chairman-CEO Adam Aron said in a statement run by The Hollywood Reporter. "We are fully comfortable showing Universal films in our theaters, even as they implement premium video on demand as we have mutually agreed. This is because AMC will share in premium revenues coming from their early availability in the home."

AMC Theaters

Cineworld, which owns Regal, decided to temporarily shutter its doors for the second time since March after MGM and Eon Productions revealed their decision to push No Time to Die to April 2021. Right now, Blumhouse's Freaky (Nov. 3), The Croods: A New Age (Nov. 25), Pixar's Soul (Nov. 25), Wonder Woman 1984 (Dec. 25), and Monster Hunter (also slated for December, although no specific date has been confirmed) are the only big projects still eyeing 2020 release dates.

Everything else (from Black Widow to Dune) was postponed to next year.

An estimated 80 percent of AMC venues are open in the U.S. at this time. Key markets like Los Angeles and New York continue to remain closed amid the pandemic. Yesterday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo said that he would remain steadfast in his ban on allowing the state's movie theaters to reopen. Without these cities screening films, box office sales will continue to remain subpar.

Thomas the Tank Engine is officially leaving the station for the big screen. Mattel announced today that it has partnered with director Marc Forster (World War Z, Christopher Robin) for a cinematic adaptation of the global Thomas & Friends franchise. The project already has a screenplay written by Renée Wolfe (Christopher Robin), Alyssa Hill (A Taste of Power), and Jesse Wigutow (writer of the upcoming Tron movie starring Jared Leto).

"Thomas is a beloved global franchise that focuses on the importance of friendship, a theme that resonates deeply with children and parents around the world," executive producer Robbie Brenner said in a statement. “Marc is an incredible storyteller and I look forward to partnering with him to tell Thomas’ story in a modern and unexpected way."

"Thomas has been a personal favorite of mine since childhood,” added Forster. “I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Robbie and the entire team at Mattel, and embarking on this beautiful journey with such a timeless property.”

Thomas the Tank Engine & Marc Forster

The Thomas IP (first created in 1945 by Rev. W. Awdry) celebrates its 75 anniversary this year.

And finally, we recommend you break out the environment-safe pesticide because Netflix just purchased Cannes horror darling The Swarm, confirms Deadline.

Helmed by French filmmaker Just Philippot, the movie concerns "a woman who develops an obsessional bond with grasshoppers," writes Deadline. Suliane Brahim (Black Spot) inhabits the title role of a single mother trying to launch a grasshopper farm, but things take a turn for the macabre when she realizes that her flock is hungry for human blood. 

The Swarm

How does the main character's insectoid obsession compare to the eighth plague Moses is said to have visited upon Egypt? We'll have to wait until the feature drops on Netflix Friday, Dec. 4 to find out.

The deal, which was negotiated in tandem with Wild Bunch International, excludes France, Spain, and China. Instead, France and Spain will receive theatrical screenings on Nov. 4 and Nov. 20 respectively. Plans for a Chinese rollout have yet to be announced.