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“The results were really encouraging for the prospects of future releases,” Cinemark CFO Sean Gamble told the Credit Suisse 2021 Annual Communications Conference during a virtual appearance on Tuesday. Army of the Dead played on cinema screens for seven days from May 14, ahead of a Netflix release on May 21.
Gamble said Cinemark’s wide-release test for the Netflix film was brought on by fast-shifting theatrical windowing for Hollywood titles during the pandemic. The hurdle for Cinemark playing streaming content has always been reaching deal terms with the major streamers, he added.
“We’ve been able to do that and work some deals that have been agreeable to both parties during the pandemic, and we’ll continue to experiment with that,” Gamble said. As Cinemark’s U.S. circuit is now fully reopened, company CEO Mark Zoradi discussed the post-pandemic impact of shortened theatrical windows after the major studios shifted movie titles to their streaming platforms amid widespread cinema closures.
“We don’t think it’s going to be dramatic. It may be slight, but we’ll have to see what those movies do when they start to come out in the third and fourth quarter,” Zoradi said of the post-COVID landscape. As he looked across the Hollywood waterfront, the Cinemark boss said Warner Bros. made a pandemic-era decision to go day-and-date with HBO Max and had signaled the studio will return to a traditional window in the 45-day range in 2022.
He added Paramount in effect has a 45-day window, and Universal has gone to dynamic theatrical windowing for its titles, with a 17-day theatrical release for small to midsize movies and at least a 31-day, five-weekend cinema run for tentpoles.
Zoradi said Disney was in a “test and learn phase,” to continue with the upcoming release of Black Widow. He conceded the theatrical window had shortened amid the pandemic, as ongoing negotiations with the major Hollywood studios continue.
“Clearly the windows situation is reduced from what used to be 74 days, probably more in line with that dynamic window of the low 30s to the mid-40s,” he added.
Zoradi also discussed Cinemark acquiring movie theaters as the overall exhibition industry comes out of the pandemic. “We’ll be really open to acquisitions with opportunistic availability,” he argued, adding that Cinemark looks to avoid overpaying for screens put up for sale by industry rivals.
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