While Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi continued to champion the theatrical window this morning on the chain’s Q1 earnings call, he also told investors and financial analysts that when it comes to smaller and lower-grossing titles, “we’re open to talking with studio partners about alternatives we can consider.”
“I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” Zoradi emphasized, “the 74-day exclusive window is an important one, especially for big blockbusters.”
The question about theatrical windows was raised this morning, given all the noise that Universal has made about their $100M-grossing PVOD rental of originally planned DreamWorks Animation event pic Trolls World Tour. Universal first made that title available in homes over Easter weekend, April 10-12, in addition to the handful of drive-ins that were open around the nation. Given exhibition’s shutdown, a number of studios opted to take their originally planned theatrical releases and make them available in home, i.e. Warner Bros. with Scoob!, Focus Features with The High Note, Uni with The King of Staten Island, and Paramount/MRC with The Lovebirds on Netflix, among others.
Zoradi emphasized his, along with COO Sean Gamble’s studio experience: “We feel comfortable in that world, (we) know the key players and what it’s like to be in their shoes. We’re unique there.”
“We negotiate window and release dates in a business setting as opposed to press settings because we think these are private negotiations,” said Zoradi in an obvious reference to AMC boss Adam Aron’s April 28 public irate letter to Universal’s Donna Langley over the studio’s proposed experimenting with theatrical PVOD releases, in which he exclaimed that his chain wouldn’t book the studio’s upcoming movie.
“We believe the exclusive window is important to the theatrical experience, and are careful about undue change to that,” said Zoradi.
For the most part, exhibition isn’t bothered when studios take titles with less commercial potential, and make them available in the home on their streaming services or PVOD. However, it’s the theatrical-day-and-date and PVOD release of an event film that rubs theater owners the wrong way, and Trolls World Tour for them was an event opportunity that should have remained in theaters, not in the home.