The End? Cinemark Signs Deal with Universal, Shortens Theatrical Window

The End? Cinemark Signs Deal with Universal, Shortens Theatrical Window

Showtime” may take on a whole new meaning thanks to this global pandemic and this deal hot off the press between Cinemark Theatres and Universal Studios. The Plano, Texas-based chain is the third largest in the U.S.. They are vying for their future with Universal to allow early home video releases for the studio’s movies.

Traditionally, the theatrical window was about 2.5 months before someone could watch a movie in the privacy of their own home. We’ve always been good with that arrangement, but now that COVID-19 is here and movie theaters are blowing little bubbles in the deep end of the pool, chains like AMC Theaters (sniffing bankruptcy), Regal and Cineworld (closing their doors), and Cinemark must do what’s best for business.

With this new deal and apparent paradigm shift in the industry, Universal movies can now be streamed VOD in only 2.5 weeks! (Not for nothing, but AMC Theaters already struck this same deal with the same studios in July.)

As they say in the movies, “Is this The End?”

Permanent Intermission for Cinemark

Cinemark may have just shot up the only hopes we have of going back to the theater.
Source: Getty Images

Call it “the price of doing business.” Say “Eff you, Coronavirus.” Whatever you feel like saying, you need to think, “I don’t blame movie theaters.”

The cinematic watching experience is sacred, a beautiful privilege we all grew up enjoying. However, these chains are losing billions each quarter on mortgage payments alone for shells of a building. They must do something. Unfortunately, VOD is the way.

This limited 17-day theatrical window will apply to every theatrical release from Universal and Focus Features. Also, if the movie opens to more than $50 million at the domestic box office, we get more time. The theatrical window gets extended to 31 days. Following that month, Universal can post their film on “Premium Video on Demand.”

In that arrangement, Cinemark gets 15-17% kickback on the money made through that revenue stream. Good times, right? Depends on who you ask.

Oh, Happy Day?

Source: Marquee Cinema, New Hartford, NY.

As fans, we take a back seat to the money, even though it’s our money they discuss. This deal seems to be a standard for chains and studios. And this makes the chain owners happy because that lint in their pockets is about to get replaced with cash again. Isn’t that right, Mr. Zoradi?

“We are extremely pleased to further enhance our strong partnership with Universal as we evolve the exclusive theatrical window. 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.”

Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi, Fox Business, Nov. 2020

That’s a ton of lipstick on that swine. Delays of release dates are well into 2021. Minor players in cinema have closed for good. And we don’t get to enjoy spending half a paycheck on lukewarm soda and nuked nachos. So, so sad. But not for Universal…

“Universal’s century-long partnership with exhibition is rooted in the theatrical experience. 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.”

Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chair Donna Langley, Fox Business, Nov. 2020

Welp, as a famous actor once said…

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