The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the movie industry in some pretty significant ways. From forcing studios such as Disney and Warner Bros. to rethink their release strategies to prompting struggling theaters to shutter for the foreseeable future, this “new normal” has had a profound effect on how we see movies–and on how movies are made, marketed, and released. Now, a huge movie theater chain has reached an agreement with some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, possibly signaling yet another seismic change in the movie market.
Variety brings word that Cinemark has struck a deal with five major studios. These studios are Warner Bros. Picture Group, The Walt Disney Company, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment. So yeah, the biggest of the big. The nature of the deal, however, is more about how long hot new releases can stay in movie theaters before becoming available on home entertainment devices. According to Variety, this deal “could help formalize a shorter theatrical window.” That means if you’d like to see movies without having to choose between going to the theater or watching it at home, you will only have 17 days before it’s available both ways. At least, that’s according to the deal Cinemark struck with Universal back in November. That previous deal also dictated that films generating at least $50 million in opening weekend box office sales must be exclusively available in movie theaters for 31 days, or five weekends.
The terms of this new deal have not yet been revealed or disclosed, so there’s currently no word on whether or not it looks anything like the company’s agreement with Universal. Cinemark did, however, mention that “each deal has unique attributes specific to the individual studio that mutually benefits both parties.” So it looks like the popular movie theater chain has tailored each agreement so that everyone is happy and that studio-specific needs are met. That is probably the safest way to go, especially considering the fact that each company will have different demands.
In addition to its impact on movie theaters, the pandemic has also delayed several big-name releases. Among them are the hotly anticipated Marvel Studios film Black Widow, which is now releasing both in theaters and on Disney+ on July 9, and No Time to Die, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters on October 8. Of course, there are also films such as Dune, which was originally scheduled for release in December 2020 but is now set to debut in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously on October 1. Paramount, on the other hand, announced its plans to make all of its theatrical titles available on Paramount+ 45 days after their debuts in theaters.
It is unclear how Cinemark reached an agreement with these five studios, or what was even agreed upon. It also remains unknown if other big-name movie theater chains will follow suit in a way they see fit. AMC and Universal recently reached a deal for 17 days of exclusivity, which suggests that different theater chains and studios may be negotiating different contracts without a set standard at this time. What we do know, however, is that the way movies are released will continue to change as the pandemic drags on. And these changes are already making themselves clear.