The pact, announced Friday, mirrors similar agreements that the studio reached on July 28 with AMC Theatres and on Nov. 17 with the Cinemark chain.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation can put new movies on premium video-on-demand platforms in as few as 17 days. Titles that generate at least $50 million in opening weekend ticket sales will have to play exclusively in theaters for 31 days, or five full weekends, before going to VOD. Traditionally, new releases remain in movie theaters for 75 to 90 days before they move to digital platforms for a $19.99 rental fee.
The companies said the agreement preserves the theatrical experience, while adapting to changing consumer behavior, particularly as the world and the entertainment industry navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The two companies are committed to creating a sustainable model for years to come,” they added.
The full terms of the deal are confidential and are not being disclosed. Upcoming releases include “The Croods: A New Age” on Nov. 25, “Half Brothers” and “All My Life” on Dec. 4; and Tom Hanks’ historical drama “News of the World” and Carey Mulligan’s “Promising Young Woman” on Dec. 25.
“The pandemic has given the industry and movie-lovers around the globe a new appreciation for the magic of the big screen experience,” said Ellis Jacob, president and CEO of Cineplex. “We are pleased to work alongside like-minded partners such as Universal, a studio that respects the theatrical window and is committed to the sustainable long-term health of the theatrical ecosystem.”
Donna Langley, chairman of UFEG, said, “With audience fragmentation accelerating due to the rise in digital, streaming and cord cutting, as well as the unprecedented issues our industry is facing right now, our relationship with exhibition had to evolve and adapt to the changing distribution landscape. Giving consumers the flexibility to view content on their terms is more important than ever to help expand moviegoing, and Ellis and our partners at Cineplex allow us to increase these opportunities for our Canadian audience.”