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Marisa Tomei and Pete Davidson in The King of Staten Island

Ahead of AMC Theatres’ planned reopening in July, some smaller theaters and drive-ins have started to show movies again. There's just one problem: new releases are few and far between. Many studios have been adapting a straight-to-VOD model, including Universal’s The King of Staten Island. The new Judd Apatow comedy dropped exclusively on demand over the weekend… much to the confusion of some ticket holders.

Over 100 movie theaters across the nation were forced to pull the title from their showing slots just days before the release of The King of Staten Island due to an error on Universal’s part. Already struggling theater owners had to provide refunds for pre-purchased tickets to see Pete Davidson’s semi-biographical dramedy and quickly shuffle for new titles to show.

According to one theater owner’s account to Variety, Universal executives asked to split ticket sales for The King of Staten Island with them, but it came off as an unfair demand considering the film would also be simultaneously available to rent at home too. In one anonymous independent theater owner’s words:

They wanted 2019 terms in 2020 conditions. This is a new landscape.

The movie was originally set to hit select theaters and homes on the same day, but due to the circumstances, it doesn’t seem like Universal and theaters could come to an agreement. Universal has already been criticized by the theater industry for its decision to release Trolls: World Tour on demand and forgo a theatrical release altogether. AMC Theaters threatened to stop screening the studio’s future films in response.

Staten Island director Judd Apatow took to Twitter multiple times to clear up the confusion when fans started sharing their tickets to see the film in local theaters:

The Warwick Drive-In in New York decided to show The Hunt and Bad Boys For Life instead at the last minute, and the Fair Oaks Drive-In Theatre moved to a John Hughes double-feature to replace Staten Island. Few theaters are playing truly new titles, though low-budget horror film The Wretched is benefitting from the current situation at least with its box office numbers.

The King of Staten Island is about Pete Davidson’s own struggles after the death of his firefighter father. The story is told through his character Scott, who is an aspiring tattoo artist who still lives at home with his mom (played by Marisa Tomei). The movie has received positive reviews from critics and audiences, currently having a 70% on the Tomatometer and 89% audience score. Be sure to read CinemaBlend’s review by our own Sean O’Connell.

The Judd Apatow film is available to rent for $19.99 on VOD. Follow along with our 2020 Release Calendar to see what movies are coming next this year.

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