AMC and Regal Theaters Want to Catch and Release Movies

This could be interesting, especially if it means more access to independent and art-house movies at the multiplex.

The nation’s two largest movie theater chains are about to encroach on Hollywood  studios’ turf.

Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment Inc. are close to launching a joint venture to acquire and release independent movies, according to people familiar with the situation, a part of the business historically dominated by the Hollywood studios.

The move potentially disrupts the longtime and delicate business relationship between theater operators and studios, in which they have acted as partners and divided a movie’s box office ticket sales. Instead, the venture would essentially thrust theaters into the studio’s role of distributor, turning a partner into a rival as the theaters’ own movies compete for screens against those from the studios.

It also is occurring against a backdrop of increasingly strained relations between theaters and studios as the latter are looking to release movies directly into the home through video-on-demand shortly after they have appeared in theaters. Theater operators fear that will dissuade people from going to the movies.

?The still unnamed company has yet to acquire any movies. However, the partners have hired a chief executive: Tom Ortenberg, a former senior executive for the Weinstein Co. and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., who has been working as an independent consultant since 2009.

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