Movie theaters are trying to find a way to adapt and survive in a COVID-19 world. They are renting out theaters to small groups for relatively small amounts of money; they are re-releasing movies, so fans that might not have had a chance to see Back to the Future on the big screen got the chance to do that. There is also the talk of how theaters will adapt to the world of streaming and PVOD. This is a conversation that has been put on the back burner year after year, but COVID-19 has forced everyone to come to terms with the fact that we need to talk about where PVOD falls if we want to continue to see major releases in movie theaters. When the pandemic first started, Universal Pictures opted to release Trolls World Tour on PVOD. AMC Theatres was not happy about this and threatened not to show Universal movies anymore. At the end of July, when it became apparent that COVID-19 was not going to be a thing that went away quickly, AMC and Universal inked a deal to shorten the theatrical window to 17 days from the previous 60-90 days. According to Deadline, Universal has inked out the same deal with Cinemark as well.
"Universal's century-long partnership with exhibition is rooted in the theatrical experience, and we are more committed than ever for audiences to experience our movies on the big screen," said Donna Langley, Chairman, UFEG in a statement. "Mark Zoradi and the team at Cinemark have been outstanding partners, and Peter Levinsohn [Vice Chairman & Chief Distribution Officer, UFEG] has done a remarkable job on the studio's behalf in making deals that give us the confidence to release our movies in the marketplace, keep the content pipeline moving, and provide consumers with the optionality that they are looking for."
"We are extremely pleased to further enhance our strong partnership with Universal as we evolve the exclusive theatrical window," added Zoradi, "We believe a more dynamic theatrical window, whereby movie theaters continue to provide an event-sized launching platform for films that maximize box office and bolsters the success of subsequent distribution channels, is in the shared best interests of studios, exhibitors and, most importantly, moviegoers."
As movie theaters continue to come to terms with the new world order in a post-COVID-19 world, we should see more deals like this start to pop up. As previously stated, this is a conversation that theaters have been able to put off for many years. Now is as good a time as any to have it. On a personal level, as someone who adores the theatrical experience, I would very much like to see movies on the big screen. However, it is one of the many things we cannot do because the United States has failed to get its collective shit together. We are coming up on 250,000 people that have died, and some of you are acting like wearing a mask, and staying home is the worst possible thing in the entire world. Get your heads out of your asses and wear your goddamn masks, you bunch of petulant children.