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Universal, Cinemark Deal Shrinks Theatrical Exclusivity Window

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The landmark agreement will bring theatrical movies to the home screen faster than ever before.

Universal and Cinemark has inked a deal that will see the theatrical exclusivity window for Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases shrink to as little as three full weekends (17 days).

The deal gives Universal the option to make its titles available across premium video on demand platforms faster from the traditional 90-day theatrical exclusive window. Terms of the deail exclude any title that opens to $50 million or more. Those films will play exclusively in Cinemark theaters for at least five full weekends (31 days) before the title may become available on PVOD.

“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,” says Donna Langley, chairman, UFEG. “Mark Zoradi and the team at Cinemark have been outstanding partners, and Peter Levinsohn [vice chairman and 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.”

Cinemark’s deal follows on a similar deal that Universal struck with AMC last July. The agreement with AMC includes a 17-day window that can be opted out of at Universal’s discretion. Both announcements come as movie theaters has struggled to adapt to social distancing measures and venue closures caused by COVID-19. Studios, including Universal, has opted to release some films directly to streaming platforms due to consumers reluctance to head to the movies due to the pandemic.

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

The full terms of the deal are confidential and are not being disclosed.

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