Staying Power! Hit Movies Will Remain In Theaters Longer. (Assuming Theaters Actually Fully Open Again.)

This combination photo shows the Universal Studios globe on Aug. 5, 2019, in Orlando, Fla., left, and the Cinemark Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., on May 11, 2016. Universal Pictures and Cinemark announced Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, a multiyear agreement that guarantees three full weekends, or 17 days, of theatrical exclusivity for Universal and Focus Feature titles before a film can become available to rent on demand. Films that open to $50 million or more, however, will stay in theaters exclusively for five full weekends, or 31 days. (AP Photo)

The bigger the hit movie, the longer you’ll have to wait before the film hits home – and the movie-theater experience may not disappear after all.

Universal Pictures and Cinemark have reached a deal that keeps a $50 million, opening-weekend blockbuster in theaters for five weekends before the option is available to move the film to premium video on demand (PVOD) for in-home watching.

The agreement calls for a 31-day window on those Universal and Focus Features titles opening at better than $50 million at the domestic box office (and that won’t happen for a while, obviously, as the pandemic continues) and a 17-day restriction on those opening at less than $50 million.

“We believe a more dynamic theatrical window, whereby movie theaters continue to provide an event-sized launching platform for films that maximizes box office and bolsters the success of subsequent distribution channels, is in the shared best interests of studios, exhibitors and, most importantly, moviegoers,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said in a statement.

Universal touted the traditional experience of going to the movies.

“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,” Chairman Donna Langley said.

The Cinemark agreement is similar to Universal’s deal with AMC at the end of this past summer, opening the door to place movies on PVOD in as little as 17 days after “opening date,” with the theaters getting a cut of the PVOD revenue.

The partnership is seen as a win-win: Universal increased its leverage dramatically, and exhibitors such as Cinemark now have more safety with that 31-day cushion for theater chains over the previous 17-day window.

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