Universal signs deal with Canada's largest cinema chain to shorten theatrical window

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The doorway to the head office of Canadian movie theater company Cineplex Entertainment.
george socka | iStock Editorial | Getty Images

Universal has struck yet another deal with a major theater chain to shorten the theatrical window from three months to as little as 17 days.

The company announced Friday that it has come to a multiyear agreement with Canada’s largest movie theater chain, Cineplex, to permit three full weekends of theatrical exclusivity before being permitted to launch on premium video on-demand platforms.

The deal also stipulates that if a title has an opening weekend gross of $50 million or more, the film will play exclusively in theaters for at least five full weekends, or 31 days, before being made available on PVOD. The full terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“With audience fragmentation accelerating due to the rise in digital, streaming and cord cutting, as well as the unprecedented issues our industry is facing right now, our relationship with exhibition had to evolve and adapt to the changing distribution landscape,” Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, said in statement.

Universal has made similar deals with AMC and Cinemark, top exhibitors in the U.S., and is the only major studio to reach this kind of agreement with exhibitors.

Canada has nearly 600 movie theaters, including Cineplex’s 165. Canadian box office totals are included in the North American tally, which is used by the industry to determine the success of a film during its opening and full run in theaters.

Universal has five theatrical releases planned for the rest of 2020. “The Croods: A New Age” is due out on Thanksgiving and the company has four titles in December: “Half Brothers,” “All My Life,” “News of the World” and “Promising Young Woman.”  

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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