Cinescape Online
June 30, 2001

Rings Won't Play in Nation's Largest Theater Chain
Christopher Smith

In the kind of BS business decision that Hollywood is infamous for, New Line Cinemas, the power behind LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING and RUSH HOUR 2, has changed its exhibitor contracts to such a noxious extent that those films will not be playing at several theater chains. Chief among the chains boycotting the release of RINGS is Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest theater chain.

The problem comes from New Line’s recent change to what are called “firm term” exhibition contracts with theaters. Under the old system, still used by studios like Paramount, Disney and MGM, studios and theater owners decided on the split of cash from movie releases once the movies were out and both studios and theaters knew how well they would perform.

Firm term contracts require the cash ratio be set before the film is released. Along with New Line, DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and Sony have gone to firm term releasing. It was this firm term releasing that had many theaters taking a bath when movies like GODZILLA tanked at the box office in comparison to what was expected.

As this is an ongoing fight, it is possible, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the problems will be worked out before the films are released. If not, you better check to see if the only theater in your town is Regal, and if it is… find somewhere else to see RINGS.