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WIRE Buzz: AMC, Universal strike deal to stream new releases early; Blind first look

By Benjamin Bullard
AMC theaters

The wait to start streaming some of the big screen’s biggest new releases is about to get a lot shorter. Under a huge new agreement between Universal Pictures and AMC Theaters, future Universal movies could show up as on-demand movies at home in as few as 17 days from the date of their theatrical debuts. 

Yep, that means that Universal’s upcoming releases could be available to rent (but not buy) on-demand only two weeks and change after they’ve first premiered in theaters. That’s an enormous shortening of the conventional home-release window, which typically puts new movies onto streaming platforms no earlier than 90 days after they’ve first released on the big screen. 

Variety, which first reported the deal, speculates that the agreement (whose overall value wasn’t disclosed, though both sides will reportedly share in the revenue) could mark the first domino to fall in a changing movie landscape, if the rest of the film industry follows suit. “Rival studios are likely to begin pushing for exhibitors to grant them more flexibility when it comes to determining when and how their theatrical releases can make their way onto home entertainment platforms,” the report posits. 

The thinking behind the deal is to feature theatrical releases as high-end, premium on-demand movies — so don’t expect new movies to end up in the $5 bargain queue anytime soon. New-release movies at home would likely go for $20 per film if ordered on-demand, with a three-month delay before the price can come down — or before the films are available to own instead of rent. 

And it’s probably a safe bet that the biggest Universal tentpoles, like the next Jurassic World or Fast & Furious installment, will get a longer lead-in time before they show up on-demand — at least at first. For now, the studio plans to test the new option with “mid-budget fare, comedies, and horror movies that might not have as robust runs in cinemas,” according to the report, noting that Universal could end up shortening the wait for even the biggest of blockbusters, if the new agreement leads to a profitable surge in movie rentals from home. 

The agreement marks a reversal of the stalemate between Universal and AMC, which saw AMC swear off future Universal releases after the studio decided on a simultaneous digital release for Trolls World Tour in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. But with theaters still in reopening limbo and Trolls World Tour a reported $100 million home-streaming success, shrinking the home release window could be a new way to tap the power of the box office — even when the box office itself remains closed. 

There’s no early word on when the first movies could show up on your TV under the new arrangement. Not counting next summer’s projected June 11 release of Jurassic World: Dominion, Universal’s upcoming slate of films includes Candyman (Oct. 16), The Croods 2 (Dec. 23), Minions: The Rise of Gru (Jul 2, 2021), and Halloween Kills (Oct. 15, 2021).

(Universal Pictures, SYFY, and SYFY WIRE are all owned by NBCUniversal.)

And now for a look at Blind.

A teaser trailer for the upcoming horror flick about, yes, a blind woman stalked by a terrifying villain (who looks a lot like Sickboy from Trainspotting), has hit the web. And by the looks of things, it's got plenty of jump scares to go with its franchise aspirations.

The story follows Faye (Sarah French), a former actress who lost her vision after a botched laser eye surgery and is struggling to rebuild her life while holed up in her Hollywood Hills dream home. Supported by her friend Sophia (Caroline Williams), Faye begins opening up to Luke (Tyler Gallant), a personal trainer who's mute and only communicates through his cell phone. Things take a dark(er) turn for our heroine after a mysterious masked killer named Pretty Boy  (Jed Rowen) moves in and Faye soon realizes she's not alone.

Blind is directed by Marcel Walz (Blood Feast), who clearly hopes Pretty Boy becomes a horror icon in the grand tradition of Freddie, Jason, Michael Myers, et al.

The film screens as part of the U.K.'s Frightfest's digital edition on Aug. 29 and will be released Stateside in November.

(via Entertainment Weekly)