Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s new multi-year deal with US third-largest operator Cinemark sees a 31-day theatrical window on these Uni and Focus titles opening north of $ 50 million at the domestic box office (which, as you can imagine it happening for a while), and 17 days on all securities opening under $ 50 million. Subsequently in both cases, Universal has the option (keyword option) to bring either type of movie to PVOD, with Cinemark getting a share of that revenue stream in the United States. And just because a movie is on PVOD doesn’t mean Universal pulls the movie completely out of theaters; instead, it will try to capitalize on both sources of income for as long as possible.
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Full terms of the deal are confidential and are not being disclosed, but here’s what I know about the sources. About 10% of the PVOD revenue on a title has been set aside for exposure. From this share, AMC and Cinemark get respectively 15% -17% of it (which translates to between 1% and 2% of the entire PVOD pot, of which a large studio usually makes 80% in money). So that’s how it works. AMC boss Adam Aron recently announced in an earnings call the truncated Focus release of Kajillionaire.
“At AMC, we made more money with the theatrical PVOD combo than we would have liked, exclusively in theaters with a 74 day window,” he said. Kajillionaire only grossed $ 531,000 at the domestic box office, and heads scratched as to what this offbeat Sundance Film Festival movie directed in July by Miranda could have done in props. Go figure it out. The movie wasn’t a pure PVOD play like Universal’s Pete Davidson drama Le roi de Staten Island, which sources reported between 30 and 45 million dollars.
“Universal’s century-old partnership with the exhibition is rooted in the theatrical experience, and we are more determined than ever to ensure audiences experience our films on the big screen,” said Donna Langley, President of ‘UFEG in a press release. “Mark Zoradi and the Cinemark team have been exceptional partners, and Peter Levinsohn [Vice Chairman & Chief Distribution Officer, UFEG] has done a remarkable job on behalf of the studio in making deals that give us the confidence to bring our films to market, keep the content pipeline in motion, and give consumers the options they are looking for. ”
Zoradi added, “We are extremely pleased to further strengthen our strong partnership with Universal as we evolve the exclusive theatrical showcase. We believe that a more dynamic theatrical window, in which theaters continue to provide an event-sized launch platform for films that maximize the box office and boost the success of subsequent distribution channels , is in the common best interest of studios, exhibitors and, most importantly, moviegoers. ”
To Universal’s credit, and a safety net for exhibitors who brave it during the pandemic by staying open, they are the only major Hollywood studio to offer new mass-market rates. Uni let go from day to day with DreamWorks Animation Trolls world tour, which prompted Aron to scream publicly at the studio. But when cold heads prevailed, a shortened theatrical window with shared PVOD stream for theater owners prevailed.
Universal has owned the # 1 movie during the pandemic over the past three weekends with Focus’ Come play and Let him go, and Bizarre last weekend. Upcoming for Uni and Focus are DreamWorks Animation The Croods: A New Age (11/25), Focus ‘ half brothers (12/4), All my life (12/4), World news (12/25) and Focus’ Promising young woman (12/25).