New Cinemark CEO Won’t Mess With Release Windows

Despite a leadership change, Cinemark won’t shift its position on the duration of a film’s theatrical release, newly appointed CEO Mark Zoradi told analysts Friday.

A debate over release windows has raged for years as studios have tried to shorten the amount of time between a film’s debut in cinemas and its home entertainment launch. The issue was reignited this summer after Paramount Pictures teamed with AMC Theaters on a deal that allows the studio to push two upcoming films, “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” and “Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” to digital platforms as soon as 17 days after they leave most theaters — instead of the typical 90 days.

Cinemark is not participating in the experiment, and from the sound of things, that stance won’t soften with Zoradi at the helm.

“The arrangement is working well,” he said, adding that he did not anticipate “significant changes to our window strategies.”

He did note that he hadn’t had time to review Paramount’s proposal.

When it comes to leverage, the theaters may have more sway. The collapse of DVD sales has forced studios to become more reliant on exhibitors, Zoradi argued. “What studios are realizing is how important theatrical is in both the profit and revenue part of the equation,” he said.

Zoradi, the former chief operating officer of DreamWorks Animation, is replacing Tim Warner, who is retiring as head of the country’s third largest theater chain after more than two decades. Warner joined Zoradi on the call and said he was committed to helping with the transition. He has been named Cinemark’s executive vice chairman.

“I feel I leave Mark with the absolute best team in the industry,” said Warner. “The board and the management team has taken this transition very seriously and we feel we have identified one of the best [people] in the business to join Cinemark.”

Zoradi added that he was “bullish” on the theatrical experience and cited improvements to Cinemark’s infrastructure as important to its long-term growth. Like many of its competitors, Cinemark has invested heavily in updating its seating and expanding its concession offerings beyond the standard fare of popcorn and soda.

New technology is also providing opportunities for so-called alternative content. From showings opera or theatrical events to video games on the bigscreen, theaters are trying to think of fresh ways to engage with customers. Zoradi said that would be another big push and that these kinds of programming could eventually be a critical source of revenues.

He assumes control of Cinemark during what some analysts predict will be a record year for the business. Receipts are up as audiences have flocked to films like “Jurassic World,” “Inside Out” and “Furious 7.”

“If you have good movies and you have good theaters, people are going to come out,” Zoradi said.

Looking ahead, Warner noted that studios are planning new “Star Wars,” “Avatar” and “Superman” films, which he predicted will lift the exhibition industry in the coming years.

“I’ve never seen a brighter time to be in this business,” he said.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • 45 Seconds of Laughter

    Film Review: '45 Seconds of Laughter'

    “Everyone is worth more than their worst act,” said Roman Catholic sister and anti-death penalty advocate Helen Prejean, and it’s with these words that “45 Seconds of Laughter” closes. It’s an apt sentiment on which to leave Tim Robbins’ sincerely felt documentary study of the therapeutic acting workshops run by his own theater company in [...]

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Selected for AFI's Life Achievement Award

    The American Film Institute Board of Trustees has selected Julie Andrews as the recipient of the 48th AFI Life Achievement Award. The award will be presented to Andrews on April 25 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will be telecast on TNT. “Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the [...]

  • 4127_D001_00007_RC Phyllis Logan stars as Mrs.

    'Downton Abbey' to Dominate Box Office Weekend With $30 Million

    The feature film version of “Downton Abbey” is heading for an impressive $30 million opening weekend at 3,079 sites for an easy victory at the North American box office, early estimates showed Friday. The launch of Brad Pitt’s space drama “Ad Astra” will land in second with about $20 million, while Sylvester Stallone’s action-thriller “Rambo: [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content