AMC Settles Dispute With Disney Over ‘Iron Man 3’ Tickets

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the second-largest U.S. cinema chain, settled a revenue-sharing dispute with Walt Disney Co. over “Iron Man 3,” leaving two big U.S. chains in a stalemate over the first big summer movie.

Tickets are available for showings starting at 9 p.m. on May 2, Kansas City, Missouri-based AMC Entertainment said today in an e-mailed statement. Terms of the revenue-sharing agreement weren’t disclosed.

“We thank our partners at Disney for working with us to achieve economical terms so we can present our guests with one of the biggest blockbusters of 2013 and solidly kick off the summer movie season,” AMC said in the statement.

With the accord, Disney has reached agreement with one of the three largest U.S. chains, which have resisted the studio’s demand for a bigger share of ticket sales. Discussions are under way with Regal Entertainment Group, the No. 1 U.S. chain, and a deal may be reached today, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Disney, which also plans to release “Monsters University,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Planes” this summer, has focused on big-budget movies since buying Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm. Such films typically command a larger share of the box-office take.

“‘Iron Man’ is going to be a hit no matter what, but you don’t want this kind of tension going into the most lucrative part of the year.” Phil Contrino, chief analyst for researcher Boxoffice.com, said in a telephone interview. “It’s a relief.”

Movie’s Open

Cinemark Holdings Inc., the third-largest U.S. chain, wasn’t selling tickets today through the website Fandango. As of yesterday, Cineplex Inc., the largest exhibitor based in Canada, also wasn’t selling tickets.

Contrino estimates “Iron Man 3” will take in $151 million in its opening weekend, better than 2010’s “Iron Man 2” and below last year’s top-grossing film, “Marvel’s The Avengers,” which generated $207.4 million domestically its opening weekend. Contrino said the slate of movies being released in May could lift results in the second-quarter above last year’s.

Paul Roeder, a spokesman for Burbank, California-based Disney, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, added 0.1 percent to $62 at the close in New York. The shares have climbed 25 percent this year. Regal, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, added 1.4 percent to $17.66. Cinemark, based in Plano, Texas, added 0.7 percent to $29.10. AMC is owned by China’s Dalian Wanda Group.

Summer Season

Summer accounted for $4.3 billion, or almost 40 percent of last year’s record $10.8 billion in ticket revenue in the U.S. and Canada, according to the researcher BoxOfficeMojo.com.

On average, studios get about 52 percent of ticket revenue after cinema operators deduct a small percentage for overhead, according to Eric Wold, an analyst at B. Riley & Co. in San Francisco. Bigger movies may command more.

Disney has asked for as much as 65 percent of the revenue, the Los Angeles Times has reported. The newspaper reported the agreement with AMC earlier today.

(Updates with closing share prices.)
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