Cinemark and Universal Agree to New VOD, Theatrical Window Deal

As they previously did with AMC Theatres earlier this year, Comcast's Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has announced they've reached a new deal with Cinemark Holdings about which UFEG films will be exhibited in Cinemark theaters in the U.S. and for how long. Three full weekends (17 days total) of theatrical exclusivity are guaranteed at minimum for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases, after which Universal will be able to make the movies available premium video on demand (PVOD) platforms. The deal makes clear though that any movie that opens to $50 million or more will be given at least five full weekends (31 days) before the title may become available on PVOD.

For reference, when accounting for Universal's 2019 crop of feature films, only the horror movie Us, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, would have cleared that $50 million mark and played in theaters for an entire month. Other films like The Secret Life of Pets 2 (which barely missed the mark on its opening), Glass, Good Boys, Yesterday, and Abominable all would have gone to PVOD after 17 days.

“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,” said Donna Langley, Chairman, UFEG. “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.”

“We are extremely pleased to further enhance our strong partnership with Universal as we evolve the exclusive theatrical window,” said Mark Zoradi, Cinemark CEO. “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.”

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As noted before, a similar deal was struck between Universal and AMC earlier this year (after the exhibitor swore off showing films from the studio entirely) with similar terms, which was without the above distinction of movies opening to over $50 million playing for longer so it's unclear if those same terms apply to AMC. Noted in the AMC agreement however, and absent from the Cinemark press release, is that Universal is sharing a chunk of the VOD sales with AMC following their debut on VOD platforms.

(Cover Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)