November 7, 2020
Cinemark Theatres, the nation’s third-largest exhibitor, is looking to emulate AMC Theatres’ landmark decision to screen Universal Pictures movies for a reduced time in exchange for sharing PVOD revenue with the studio.
With a $148 million loss and a 95% drop in ticket sales in the most-recent fiscal third quarter, ended Sept. 30, Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi admitted the chain was against the wall trying to survive financially in an industry ravaged by extended shutdowns, limited seating capacity due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, Cinemark is reducing the exclusive 90-day theatrical window to just a few weeks for Vince Vaughn horror comedy Freaky, which debuts on Nov. 13; Kevin Costner starrer Let Him Go, debuting Nov. 6; and The Croods: A New Age, which launches Nov. 25.
The move is temporary and fluid as negotiations with Universal and other studios remain ongoing.
“Since we don’t have a specific agreement [with Universal] set on a go-forward basis … we are taking each movie on an individual film-by-film basis, during this period of time,” Zoradi said on the fiscal call.
The Universal/AMC deal enables the studio to distribute new-release content screening in AMC theaters into homes just 17 days after their big screen debut. Universal has been pushing theaters to rethink the release window after it scored a fiscal home run earlier this year releasing Trolls World Tour directly into homes.
Zoradi said he still believes an exclusive theatrical window is “critically” important to the overall media landscape. How long that window remains open is under review.
“We’re having active discussions with multiple content providers to evolve windows,” he said. “We’re advocating for more of a dynamic window that varies with the box office generated, which benefits all parties, studios, exhibitors, and most importantly, movie goers.”
The CEO revealed that recent theatrical marketing campaigns enabling small groups to rent out theaters for so-called “watch parties” hasn’t panned out for Cinemark.
“While several of our competitors have since followed with their own version of private watch parties, we’ve not seen them impact our sales to date,” Zoradi said, adding that he doesn’t expect the theater business to return to normal operations until 2022.