Robert Downey Jr. at the Paris premiere of "Iron Man 3," which… (Thibault Camus / Associated…)
LAS VEGAS -- The nation's second-largest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, has stopped selling advance tickets for the upcoming movie "Iron Man 3" because of a dispute with Walt Disney Studios.
At an industry convention intended to showcase the close relations between studios and theater chains, a fight erupted between the two powerful companies over how to divvy up box-office revenues from "Iron Man 3," the Marvel Studios film that is set for release May 3.
"We do not have 'Iron Man 3' tickets on sale because we are still working to reach terms with Disney,'' AMC said in a statement. "We hope to reach agreement and get tickets on sale as soon as possible so it doesn't affect opening weekend."
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"Iron Man 3," starring Robert Downey Jr., is expected to be one of the biggest movie openings of the year and Hollywood is counting on such films to boost box-office revenue, which has been down 12% this year.
A spokesman for AMC, which was acquired last year by China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $2.6 billion, declined to elaborate on the source of the dispute, saying "AMC doesn't publicly discuss ongoing negotiations."
But a person familiar with the dispute, who asked not to be identified because the matter was confidential, said it sprang from Disney's efforts to take a larger share of box-office revenue.
Disney declined to comment. The Burbank-based conglomerate has been in a cost-cutting mode of late and recently laid off about 150 workers from its studio.
Theaters and studios often clash over so-called box-office splits, but such disputes rarely become public.
The dust-up came on the second day of CinemaCon, the annual trade show for the motion picture theater industry where studio executives have showcased their upcoming movies and used the occasion to celebrate their symbiotic relations with theater chains.
It wasn't clear whether other large chains would join AMC in the boycott. The nation's largest chain, Regal, was still selling advance tickets to "Iron Man 3." Representatives of Cinemark and Carmike, the nation's third- and fourth-largest circuits, declined to comment.
Relations between studios and theater chains have improved considerably from two years ago when the industry convention was overshadowed by a fight over how soon after their theatrical release that movies would be released into the home. That dispute has since subsided.
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Times staff writer Daniel Miller contributed to this report.
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