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Among many things, the Covid-19 pandemic might change the way audiences experience new films forever. Throughout the course of the past year and change, film studios and theater houses alike have had to adjust to unprecedented conditions regarding the distribution of new movies. While some studios have opted to sell big-ticket projects to streamers, others have stood their ground in the hope that things will soon return to “normal.” Both options present their own set of gambles, and now Cinemark has inked a new deal with five major studios that could help formalize a shorter theatrical window.
The terms of the deal are not meant for the public at this time, but suffice it to say that we could be looking at some game-changing alterations to the film industry as a result.
“Cinemark is thrilled to have reached new agreements with our major studio partners, and we are eager to continue providing movie fans an immersive, larger-than-life cinematic environment to see major upcoming films, ranging from the biggest blockbusters to specialty fare to family-friendly content,” said Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi. “In our ongoing efforts to maximize attendance and box office during the pandemic and beyond, our goal is to provide the widest range of content with terms that are in the best long-term interests of Cinemark, our studio partners, and moviegoers. We are pleased with these recent developments and are confident we are taking positive steps toward reigniting theatrical exhibition and evolving the industry for a post-pandemic landscape.”
The deal involves Cinemark entering agreements with Warner Bros. Picture Group, The Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures Entertainment. One has to imagine that the deal will be similar to the one Cinemark forged with Universal in November, which permits the studio to present new movies on premium video-on-demand platforms 17 days after they open in theaters. Ah, but there’s a catch. Films that bank at least $50 million during their opening weekend must screen exclusively in theaters for 31 days or five full weekends. In other words, if your movie is a ticket seller, it’s got to stick around so theaters can enjoy their piece of the pie.
While looking at what little information there is about Cinemark’s new deal, it sounds like each studio will have its own terms. For example, Paramount says films will debut on Parmount+ 45 days after they’re released in theaters. Meanwhile, it remains unclear if Warner Bros. will attempt to simultaneously release films in theaters and on HBO Max. That movie seems to have worked out for them in 2021, but with theaters steadily increasing their capacity in some parts of the world, things could look very different by the start of 2022.
“Each deal has unique attributes specific to the individual studio that mutually benefits both parties,” Cinemark said in a statement.
Shortening the amount of time new films screen in theaters could be a big shift for the entertainment industry as a whole. Not only will it make the theater-going experience more precious, but it will also inspire more competition as streaming services fight for marquee titles. This, of course, will be a case-by-case basis, seeing as some studios will obviously port the films to their own platforms. Still, the future of film is looking very different as we arrive on the opposite side of the pandemic, and there’s no telling what new territory will be explored going forward.