Universal Movies Can Premiere On-Demand Early Thanks to New Deal Made With Cinemark

Due to the global pandemic, many movie theaters shut down and even though several have opened up again, many families now prefer to just watch their movies at home whether for safety reasons or just pure convenience.

Universal CityWalk

Several months ago, Universal Pictures struck a deal with AMC Theatres that would allow them to release films on demand just DAYS after their theatrical release. Now, Universal has reached a somewhat similar deal with Cinemark Theatres, although it does have a few unique differences that could keep movies in the theaters a bit longer.

According to Variety, Universal Pictures and Cinemark Theatres have “forged a landmark agreement” that will help bring theatrical movies into people’s homes much quicker, similar to the agreement Universal reached with AMC Theatres a few months ago.

AMC Theatre

As a quick recap, the AMC Theatres agreement allows Universal to put new movies on digital rental services after just 17 days of theatrical release. Universal, however, has also agreed to share in the digital profits with AMC. This is a dramatic difference from the “typical” timeframe that movies play exclusively in theaters — which is typically 75 to 90 days.

AMC Movie Theatre

The Cinemark Agreement has slightly different terms according to Variety. “Any movie that earns more than $50 in opening weekend ticket sales has to stay in theatres for at least 31 days, or five weekends,” before it can be related to digital platforms. All other movies can be made available to rent on digital platforms after just 17 days. 

Variety reports that insiders have indicated these new terms will also extend to AMC.

Universal Cinemark

According to Variety, neither agreement says that Universal definitively WILL move its movies to a premium video-on-demand service after the 17 days elapse, but it gives Universal the opportunity to do so and possibly “recoup potential losses should a movie underperform in theaters.” “Blockbuster hopefuls,” however, like films coming from the Jurassic Park or Fast & Furious franchises are “expected to still have lengthy theatrical runs.” If Universal were to make those available digitally too quickly it could “cannibalize ticket sales.”

Jurassic Park Face Mask

Also, just because Universal decides to debut a movie early on-demand, that doesn’t mean that the movie will be promptly pulled from theaters. Instead, “cinema operators will still be able to play them on the big screen, should they want to.”

AMC in Disney Springs

The pandemic truly has been “devastating to those in the business of showing movies on the big screen.” Variety reports that Regal Cinemas has chosen to close down all of its U.S. locations, while AMC has said that “its deal with Universal is the reason why they are able to stay open.”


Cinemark’s CEO has indicated that they believe in 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.” But, not all cinema operators are ready to make deals like this one. The CEO of Regal’s parent company, Cineworld, has been opposed to these changes to theatrical windows and said that 17 days is “too aggressive and too short.”

©Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Universal is currently the “only major studio to reach this kind of agreement with movie theatre owners.” We’ll definitely be interested to see if more studios reach similar agreements and if cinema operators like Regal eventually agree to some kind of modified deal shortening their theatrical windows. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates regarding these changes and let you know what we find.

For now, you can expect to see at least some Universal movies available on digital platforms sooner than usual after their theatrical releases, giving consumers a few more options when it comes to their movie-going experience.

What do you think about these movie deals? Would you prefer to watch a movie at home or in the theaters right now? Let us know in the comments!

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