Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi weighed in this morning on all the noise that Universal and AMC stirred up last week with their plan to crunch the theatrical window to 17 days.
“Consistent with our past practices, Cinemark does not comment on the actions of our competitors. That said we believe an exclusive theatrical window is critically important. While we have publicly stated that we’re willing to have conversations with our studio partners to evolve windows, we’re mindful that an overly aggressive shortened theatrical window could have an adverse impact to the mid-to-tail-end of a film’s life,” said Zoradi on today’s Q2 call addressing the elephant in the room.
Zoradi told financial analysts that in the wake of last week’s news about Universal-AMC’s deal – which gives the studio the option to take their pics into the PVOD market after 17 days, and for the No. 1 chain to get a split of those monies – there haven’t been any alarming talks with studios about windows. Such conversations for Zoradi have been “ongoing” for quite some time. “There hasn’t been any new aggressive discussions that I’d characterize as ongoing and not different,” said the Cinemark boss.
Zoradi’s comments come a week after Universal and AMC announced their new deal. Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger, who oversees the world’s second largest chain including U.S. Regal, exclusively told Deadline last Wednesday that “We do not see any business sense in this model” when it came to the Uni-AMC deal.
Zoradi took the high road today in not rattling a saber at Universal and AMC, rather telling analysts he wasn’t going to comment on hypothetical situations, and will keep theatrical window discussions behind closed doors with studio partners, not out in the open on a public earnings call.
Some of our studio sources believe that Zoradi would never go along with a deal that is similar to what Universal and AMC made; however, when we spoke with him in mid-June, he seemed to be more pragmatic about the changing winds. In fact to him it’s nothing new. When Zoradi was at Disney, sequels to big animated films like The Lion King were being released directly into homes on video, while TV properties such as High School Musical, saw its threequel released in theaters. So, there was always this flexibility and experimentation when it came to content distribution.
“Will there be examples and changes and unique one-off? Yes, on smaller movies that have a short theatrical run. Can some of those have a shorter window than have traditionally been? Yes, we can talk to studios about that. But the big important movies, we don’t see a categorical change either on our side or the studio side,” Zoradi told Deadline in June.
The Cinemark Boss also emphasized back in June, “The studios created windows, and they like it because it allows them to re-market and get additional revenue from the next sequential window along the line. You start with your highest per cap window, which is theatrical and you work your way down. Theatrical also clearly creates value for all the ancillary markets. From the home entertainment market, we see time and time again, people who actually rent movies tend to have seen it already in the theater. So the theatrical business sets it up, helps the ancillary video market, clearly helps the merchandising and theme park business for the two companies that are heavily into theme parks. It’s the engine that lights the fire. I don’t see a categorical change in this.”
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