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‘Shang-Chi’ & More Change Premiere Plans

Team Stardust
May 13, 2021

Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently announced that upcoming films Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Free Guy will premiere exclusively in theaters, but now, there is a new twist. Both films will be exclusively available to theaters for 45 days, then make their way to VOD and streaming.

Showing films for 45 days in theaters cuts the traditional 90-day theatrical window in half. Yet, Disney is not the only studio making these major changes. Universal Studios was the first major studio to disregard the traditional theatrical window in favor of a shorter window during the beginning of the pandemic. Now, Universal is back at it again.

Owner of the Regal Cinemas theater chain, Cineworld, has struck a deal with Universal Studios that will shorten theatrical windows across U.S and U.K. cinemas.

In accordance with Universal’s deal with AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas in the U.S. will have exclusive rights to show films in theaters for 17 days, after which Universal can make the film available as premium VOD. However, if the film makes over $50 million over opening weekend, the exclusive theatrical window will expand to 31 days.

In the United Kingdom, the exclusive theatrical window will start at 31 days, and extend to 45 days if the film reaches an yet undisclosed benchmark in sales during the opening weekend. 

The deal comes as theaters continue to struggle to survive after a year of closures and pandemic restrictions. Cinemark has also made theatrical window deals with Sony, Warner Bros., and Paramount, but the content of those deals remains confidential at the time of writing.

What do you think of the major shift in the theatrical release window? Do you think it will benefit both cinemas and studios?

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