Universal Pictures and Cinemark Theaters have reached a deal that guarantees Universal and Focus Features theatrical releases will remain in theaters for at least 17 days before going to video-on-demand platforms.
This multi-year deal is an agreement between the two to further help theaters — Cinemark Theaters in this instance — to prevent movies from going straight to VOD on release day, which undercuts theater chains already struggling to remain open amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. Any movie that opens to $50 million or more will see its 17-day timeline extended by 14 days for a total of 31 days in theaters before going to VOD.
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“Universal’s century-long partnership with exhibition is rooted in the theatrical experience, and we are more committed than ever for audiences to experience our movies on the big screen,” Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman, Donna Langley, said in a press release. “Mark Zoradi [Cinemark CEO] and the team at Cinemark have been outstanding partners, and Peter Levinsohn [Vice Chairman & Chief Distribution Officer of UFEG] has done a remarkable job on the studio’s behalf in making deals that give us the confidence to release our movies in the marketplace, keep the content pipeline moving, and provide consumers with the optionality that they are looking for.”
Zoradi said he and Cinemark believe a more dynamic theatrical window, “whereby movie theaters continue to provide an event-sized launching platform for films that maximize box office and bolsters the success of subsequent distribution channels,” is in the shared best interests of studios, exhibitors, and moviegoers.
Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and DreamWorks Animation have five theatrical releases remaining on the 2020 calendar, all of which will show in theaters for at least 17 days before going to VOD under this new deal. Those five movies are The Croods: A New Age (November 25), Half Brothers (December 4), All My Life (December 4), News of the World (December 25, and Promising Young Woman (December 25).
This deal is similar to another deal Universal Pictures struck back in July where it and AMC Theaters agreed to shorten the time between theater premiere dates and VOD premieres to 17 days. That deal came months after a public dispute between the two companies where AMC was unhappy that Universal was releasing movies on VOD the same day as the theatrical release.
Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer and guide maker for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.