Cinemark and Universal Have Struck a New Deal, But Will It Be Enough?

VOD is coming much faster than expected for some titles...

During COVID-19, movies have gotten into big trouble. It's nearly impossible to see them in theaters, and so many things have been pushed into next year that the only things we've seen this year are on streamers or the January-March releases. 

This has changed the industry, with many titles seeking to release on VOD or straight to streaming. The theatrical industry is rightfully wary of these changes. Why see a movie in a theater if you can press play online? 

Well, these new worlds have caused Cinemark and Universal to strike a new deal. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Universal can put new movies on premium video-on-demand in as few as 17 days after release. To protect theaters, movies that generate (at least) $50 million in opening weekend ticket sales have to play exclusively in theaters for 31 days, or five full weekends.

This marks a huge change to the old method of new releases remaining on the big screen for 75 to 90 days before they move to digital platforms for a $19.99 rental fee.

Universal made a deal with AMC Theaters a few months ago that resembles this agreement. 

These kinds of deals benefit theaters, who get to keep their cash cows like Jurassic Park, Marvel, and DC movies. Obviously, they can't plan on a movie with legs, but those things happen so infrequently. And you can always rerelease. 

They also left the option to pull movies from theaters to Universal. So if they have a title doing $5 million in theaters, they may opt to leave it there longer if it makes profitable sense to them. 

All this is moot during the pandemic. I cannot fathom any title making $50+ million opening weekend during a pandemic, but there are high hopes that a vaccine will boost attendance as more and more people get inoculated. 

Right now, this deal only covers Universal movies, so the Fast and Furious franchise seems like the obvious play for theaters to make bank. But you can assume other studios will work to make similar deals as more and more people seek out theaters. 

With many studios even starting to push titles to 2022, the hope is that this deal will keep a crippled industry propped up until things can get back to normal. Right now it feels like a necessity. 

Hopefully, the industry gets some governmental aid and returns stronger than ever. 

What do you think of this new deal? Let us know in the comments.      

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