As we all continue to reckon with what “going to the movies” looks like during a damn global pandemic (with Christopher Nolan taking a huge swing and a miss), the already tenuous relationship between movie theaters and PVOD/streaming continues to collapse and conflate in interesting ways. We’ve already seen Universal Pictures and AMC do a dance regarding “when a movie can stay in theaters versus when it can come to PVOD,” and now the studio is making similar moves with another giant theater chain. Per a press release, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Cinemark Theaters have entered an agreement regarding the timing and dates of theatrical exhibition versus PVOD exhibition — and, like most things, money is a pressing factor.
For all Cinemark theatrical exhibitions of Universal Pictures and Focus Features films, there must be at least three full weekends (17 days) before the studios consider moving to PVOD services as well. However, if any title opens to $50 million or more in its opening weekend, the window of Cinemark exclusivity opens to five full weekends (31 days) before it can move to PVOD as well. Of this deal, Mark Zoradi, Cinemark CEO, said that, “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.” And Donna Langley, Chairman of UFEG, said that the deal gives them “confidence to release our movies in the marketplace, keep the content pipeline moving, and provide consumers with the optionality that they are looking for.”