Comcast CFO Mike Cavanaugh sees PVOD opportunities arising on a “title by title” basis going foward at Universal although “there is obviously a lot of industry stuff to work through to bring that to fruition.”
His comments at a media conference Wednesday – the latest in a war of words over windows – were in response to a question about NBCUniversal rolling out Trolls World Tour directly to video-on-demand with theaters shutterd by COVID-19. Execs have implied that it was the first but may not be the last time. The move and subsequent comments — including by NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell — created major pushback by theater chains which have threatened not to show the studio’s films.
Cavanaugh said Trolls was already being marketed so it was the best decision to make at the time and that NBCUniversal “would probably have lost money if we had not had that opportunity.” He called it “a consumer friendly approach. We’re certainly getting good feedback from folks who have watched the movie and it continues to do well but it is obviously a function of the world we have where theatres are closed,” he told investors at the J.P. Morgan virtual media, tech and communications conference.
While “It was a nice success,” he said, he stressed that big films are lined up awaiting theatrical release, mentioning F9 and Minions: The Rise of Gru. “It’s difficult to take a big franchise blockbuster kind of movie and release it into a world where theaters aren’t open.” Those films have moved to 2021 (July and February respectively).
He said pushing films out a year will squeeze theatrical profits in 2020 and also drain earnings that would have come from home release and other windows next year. “It’s probably a two year story until we get back to releasing big movies.”
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