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Universal Notches Canada’s Cineplex With Dynamic Theatrical Window PVOD Pact Following AMC, Cinemark

Universal has just inked another multi-year shortened theatrical window/PVOD share deal, this time with Canada’s biggest exhibitor, Cineplex.

The deal comes on the heels of Uni’s recent pact with No. 3 U.S. chain Cinemark. To date, Cineplex becomes the third exhibitor to agree to Uni’s truncated theatrical window terms since AMC first signed on back in July.

The deal is on par with Uni’s Cinemark deal which guarantees at least three full weekends (17 days) of theatrical exclusivity for all Universal Pictures and Focus Features theatrical releases, at which point the studio has the option to take it to PVOD, including the Cineplex Store. Any movie opening north of $50M at the domestic B.O. will play in theaters for 31 days before being made available on PVOD. And, again, just because the movie is on PVOD, doesn’t mean it gets pulled from theaters. It’s no surprise to see Cineplex on board with this, as the chain’s President and CEO Ellis Jacob has always been open-minded and pragmatic about crunching the theatrical window.

Note, there are two things going on now in the exhibition-motion picture distribution space: There are pandemic deals, like that of Warner Bros. and its theatrical day and date HBO Max release of Wonder Woman 1984, situations which sources acknowledge are one-offs. Then there’s what Universal is doing which is perceived as potentially having a far-reaching impact on how movies will be released, once COVID-19 is eradicated and we return to normal.

“The pandemic has given the industry and movie-lovers around the globe a new appreciation for the magic of the big screen experience,” said Jacob. “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.”

“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,” said Donna Langley, Chairman, UFEG. “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.”

Uni and Cineplex were mum on the details of the deal.

Universal continues to supply those exhibitors weathering the pandemic with titles, i.e. The Croods: A New Age on Nov. 25, Focus Features’ Half Brothers on Dec. 4, All My Life on Dec. 4, News of the World  and Focus’ Promising Young Woman on Dec. 25.

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