Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Peacock have announced a new licensing agreement that will bring the studio’s theatrical slate to streaming faster than before. Beginning in 2022, Universal films will become available exclusively on Peacock no later than four months following their theatrical debut.
The accelerated window between theatrical and streaming will cover films from Universal, Focus Features, Illumination, and DreamWorks Animation. This means that films like Jurassic World: Dominion, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Minions: The Rise of Gru, and the latest original movie directed by Jordan Peele will hit Peacock within four months of their big screen bows.
The new agreement accelerates what is called the pay-one window, which would traditionally span six to seven months before the pandemic. However, Universal and Peacock’s deal features some nuances about streaming exclusivity. For the first and last four months of the 18-month pay-one window, Universal movies will be exclusively streaming on Peacock. They will be made available to other partners for the 10 months in between, though these partners have not yet been disclosed.
Universal and Peacock’s announcement also includes plans for Universal to develop and produce original content to premiere on the streaming service. While there were no announcements of specific projects, the deal details plans to debut Peacock-exclusive content in 2022.
“This new dynamic Pay-One agreement demonstrates UFEG’s continued commitment to building a film ecosystem that allows filmmakers and artists to reach the broadest possible audience, celebrates and strengthens the theatrical experience, and, above all, empowers fans to experience the films they love on their own terms,” said Peter Levinsohn, Vice Chairman and Chief Distribution Officer at UFEG. “We’re excited to become Peacock’s first Pay-One partner while the platform continues to curate and build a vast film library that will delight its rapidly growing subscriber base.”
Hidden Gems to Watch on Peacock
The new agreement is just the latest development in studios’ shifting approaches toward streaming in a post-pandemic era. Warner Bros. has continued with its plan to simultaneously release its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max for one-month exclusive windows, bringing the likes of Dune, The Suicide Squad, and The Matrix 4 to living rooms at the same time as theaters. Disney is also experimenting with its Premier Access program, which makes theatrically released movies like Cruella, Raya and the Last Dragon, and the upcoming Black Widow available to Disney Plus subscribers at a $30 rental.
Peacock has had a rocky first year since its official launch in July 2020. While the service has added 42 million accounts, The Wall Street Journal has reported that fewer than 10 million have signed up for either of Peacock’s paid subscription models, which are available at $4.99 and $9.99 per month. Comparatively, Disney Plus hit 103 million subscribers in May while Netflix’s numbers surpassed 200 million earlier this year. HBO Max launched in May 2020, two months before Peacock, and has grown with HBO to a combined subscriber base of 44.2 million in the US.
J. Kim Murphy is a freelance entertainment writer.