After announcing a forward-thinking deal with AMC back in July, Universal has once again forged a similar partnership with another major theatre chain this week as they continue to take aim at previously unassailable theatrical windows. The studio has come to an agreement with Cinemark, the third-largest theatre chain in the United States, that will allow them to roll out theatrical releases to premium VOD much more quickly depending on their box office performance. As with the AMC deal, Cinemark will be compensated with a share of the VOD revenue although the exact numbers were not made public. Hit the jump for more details.
According to THR, Universal has struck a multi-year deal with Cinemark Entertainment that will enable their movies to arrive on VOD as early as 17 days after they hit theatres. If a movie makes less than $50 million at the U.S. box office, this minimum 17 day period will give theatres three full weekends of theatrical exclusivity. For bigger releases that make $50 million or more, however, that exclusivity window will be extended to 31 days (which is still much shorter than today’s typical three-month wait). This would apply to all Universal, DreamWorks Animation and Focus Features releases.
In other words, it is possible that even giant blockbuster films like Jurassic World: Dominion or F9 could potentially arrive on VOD just one month after hitting theatres, which is pretty crazy. Of course, it may not make sense to do this for their biggest releases, but they now have that flexibility. The deal is obviously being struck in light of the COVID-19 situation but it will extend beyond that as well, carving out a brave new world moving forward. Universal is the first studio to secure deals like this and it will be interesting to see if it gives them an advantage in the marketplace or if everyone else will be following in their footsteps. Do you think this is a smart move by Universal?