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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.

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