Regal Entertainment Group and AMC Entertainment, the largest U.S. theater chains, have stopped advance sales for Walt Disney Co.'s "Iron Man 3" in a revenue-sharing dispute that threatens the start of the summer movie season.
Regal, the biggest cinema operator, stopped selling tickets this week to the superhero sequel from Disney's Marvel unit, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
AMC, based in Kansas City, said this week it wasn't offering advance sales for the May 3 opening because it hadn't reached terms with Disney. Studios and exhibitors in the United States split the revenue from theatrical ticket sales.
The biggest chains' united front makes it tougher for Disney, owner of Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm, to obtain better terms for "Iron Man," the summer's first likely blockbuster, and future films. Regal and AMC account for about 30 percent of U.S. screens, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.
"We hope to reach agreement and get tickets on sale as soon as possible so it doesn't affect opening weekend," Ryan Noonan, an AMC spokesman, said in an email this week.
Burbank, Calif.-based Disney, the world's largest entertainment company, didn't respond to requests for comment. The company is using "Iron Man" to gain better terms with theater owners on its future releases, Deadline.com reported this week.
Typically, studios and theater owners agree on a general ticket-revenue split well in advance and then refine after the theatrical run based on outperformance or underperformance, said Dale "Bud" Mayo, who is founder and chief executive officer of Digital Cinema.
The U.S. flap follows a decision by Disney to release a separate version of "Iron Man 3" in China. The company said on March 30 that it won't seek official Chinese co-production status. Co-productions aren't counted against foreign-movie quotas and can provide studios with a larger share of revenue.
"Iron Man 3" was partly made in China with Disney's Beijing-based partner, DMG Entertainment. A release date for the Chinese version wasn't announced.
Regal, based in Knoxville, Tenn., has 6,777 screens, while AMC, which was acquired by China's Dalian Wanda Group in September 2012, has 5,336, according to the theater association.
-- Christopher Palmeri and Michael White, Bloomberg News
Stars aligning for Cannes
Michael Douglas plays Liberace, Justin Timberlake a 1960s folk singer and Ryan Gosling a Bangkok drug smuggler in three of the 19 contenders for the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, which starts May 15.
Steven Soderbergh's "Behind the Candelabra" is the story of the flamboyant pianist Liberace's stormy six-year affair with a younger man (played by Matt Damon). Competing with it for the Palme d'Or is Joel and Ethan Coen's "Inside Llewyn Davis," in which Carey Mulligan co-stars with Mr. Timberlake.
Mr. Gosling -- star of Nicolas Winding Refn's violent "Drive" (2011) -- will be back in Cannes with another Refn movie, "Only God Forgives." He plays a character called Julian whose drug-trafficking life in Thailand is disrupted when his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) urges him to avenge his brother's death.
Organizers announced the lineup to reporters at a Paris news conference and released it online. Cannes is the world's leading film festival, and this year's event (which ends May 26) is the 66th. The opening movie on May 15 is Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby," with Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan; it will screen out of the official competition.
One movie premiering at Cannes, Mohammad Rasoulof's "Anonymous," was shot secretly and smuggled out of Iran. He is one of three Iranian filmmakers who were arrested in March 2010, and released on bail the same month.
Another Iranian director -- Asghar Farhadi, whose "A Separation" won the foreign-language Oscar last year -- is an official Cannes contestant with "The Past," shot outside Iran, with Berenice Bejo ("The Artist") in the lead.
Sofia Coppola's "The Bling Ring," inspired by a true story of teenagers robbing celebrities, will premiere in Cannes, although it was not selected for the main competition. Emma Watson plays the lead.
European directors in the running for the Palme d'Or this year include Roman Polanski, with "Venus in Fur," featuring his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric; and Francois Ozon whose "Jeune et Jolie" has Charlotte Rampling in the cast.
Stephen Frears' "Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight" will get a special Cannes screening. It stars Christopher Plummer and Danny Glover.
-- Farah Nayeri,
• The 2014 Golden Globes will be Jan. 12, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Thursday. They will be held at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. Nominations will be revealed Dec. 12.
• Disney Studios announced this week that the seventh "Star Wars" movie would be a summer 2015 release with the other movies due in 2017 and 2019. The studio also will alternate films in the new trilogy with spinoff films drawn from the same universe.