Universal, Cineplex Strike Deal

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

On Friday, the company announced that it had come to a multi-year agreement with Canada’s largest movie theater chain Cineplex (TSX:CGX) 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.

Said one Universal official, "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."

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

There are just under 600 movie theaters in Canada, 165 of which belong to Cineplex. 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 opened in New York Friday up but four cents to $49.52, while Cineplex began the day in Toronto ahead 14 cents, or 1.5%, to $9.26.