Universal and Cinemark have reached a shortened theatrical window agreement. In addition, the theater chain will get cut in on VOD earnings. AMC secured a similar deal with Universal five months ago, which will now have a significant effect on when movies can be released on VOD. According to new deals with Cinemark and AMC, Universal will be able to pull some of its movies as quick as 17 days into its theatrical run to place on VOD. However, things change drastically when it comes to potential box office hits.

Most of the details behind the new deal between Cinemark and Universal are confidential. However, it has been revealed that Universal and Focus Features will have to let theaters know in advance which movies will receive the shorter theatrical window. Not all movies will be able to make the quick jump to VOD. Cinemark has also been guaranteed a longer theatrical window for blockbusters, which goes up to five weeks. Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group had this to say about the Cinemark deal.

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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. Mark Zoradi and the team at Cinemark have been outstanding partners, and Peter Levinsohn [Vice Chairman & Chief Distribution Officer, 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."

Mark Zoradi, Cinemark CEO, says, "We are extremely pleased to further enhance our strong partnership with Universal as we evolve the exclusive theatrical window." The latest deal with Universal could go a long way in introducing a new normal when it comes to when movies are made available on VOD after initial theatrical releases. You can read the rest of what Zoradi had to say about the deal below.

"We 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, most importantly, moviegoers."

Blockbuster movies provide theaters with much-needed income, since they normally have staying power after coming out of the gate and making the majority of their money within the first month. The deal between Cinemark and Universal provides the theater chain with a longer guaranteed window and a cut of the VOD profits, which they were not receiving before. It's believed that this part of the deal will be extended to AMC too.

These new deals with AMC and Cinemark have guaranteed that some Universal movies will still open in theaters this year, including The Croods: A New Age, which is set to release later this month and the Tom Hanks' News of the World, which is scheduled to open in theaters on Christmas Day. The majority of studios have taken all of their movies and pushed them back to 2021. The news comes as more theaters are poised to close after another spike in cases across North America. The Wrap was one of the first outlets to report on the Cinemark and Universal deal.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick