Comcast CEO Says Breaking Theatrical Window Was "Right Move"

Brian Robert  chief executive officer of Comcast July 10, 2018 -  Getty-H 2018
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"We will continue lean into what has become a successful hybrid model," Brian Roberts told an analyst call.

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal's deals with exhibition giants AMC Theatres and Cinemark to shrink the theatrical window and create a new premium VOD window were supported by Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts on Thursday.

Roberts said the recent decision to release theatrical movies direct to consumers "had proven to be profitable and the right move for us."

"While we look forward to when we can enjoy the theatrical release of franchise films like F9, Minions and Jurassic World, we will continue lean into what has become a successful hybrid model," Roberts added about the state of the theatrical release market amid the pandemic during comments made during his company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

The latest financials revealed the media conglomerate continues to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has weighed on NBCU's theatrical, theme park and other divisions. Early on during the pandemic, Universal decided to move many of its 2020 tentpoles to 2021, including F9 and the next Jurassic World installment.

Peter Levinsohn, who is vice chairman and chief distribution officer of Universal Filmed Entertainment and reports to studio chair Donna Langley, recently told THR about the fight to keep films like Promising Young Woman and The Croods: New Age on the big screen amid the coronavirus pandemic and why he won't be sending movies straight to NBCU's streaming service Peacock anytime soon.

NBCUniversal in March 2020 surprised Hollywood when it announced that the event family movie Trolls World Tour would be made available on demand as the coronavirus pandemic gathered pace. After an initial pushback from theater operators, Universal struck a historic agreement with AMC Theatres to allow the studio's movies to go to premium video-on-demand after just 17 days of play in cinemas, including three weekends.

That pact effectively collapsed the traditional theatrical window that long required studios to play their films on the big screen for nearly three months before making films available in the home.