Universal: The Croods and Freaky Will Have Shortened Theatrical Window

Here’s most of movies playing as of 10/3/2020 at our only Regal Cinema nearby — not for much longer, it seems, in light of news they are closing all their U.S theaters soon

It’s kind of slim pickings for new movies at the theater right now — that is, if you have any theaters open in your area. And if you actually want to go like we do. Might go later today before the one lone Washington State Regal Cinema closes — MAYBE — as reported by Variety (see: Cineworld To Close All 543 Regal Cinemas After No Time To Die delay, says Variety sources)

Still, slim pickings. And unnecessarily so when we look at lists of new movies coming out this week here: WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND #40 of 2020 Movie and TV Streaming Picks – Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, Hulu, Shudder

Regular readers are familiar with our position on reducing and/or eliminating the theatrical window (that often onerous 90 day window before a movie can go from theaters to streaming). When a lot of movie industry people were angry at Universal for taking Trolls World Tour PVOD only we celebrated the decision (see: Universal Supporting VOD During Pandemic More Than Any Other Studio)

Consistently with our beliefs, we also celebrated Universal’s (too often) maligned deal to reduce the window (see: Collapsing Theatrical Windows Are Not The End Of Cinema Life As We Know It).

That all said, Universal is flexing its studio muscle again to, well, give us — moviegoers, their customers — movies the way we like to see them — in theater and/or home — as soon as it makes sense. Anybody who thinks this means the “death of cinema” when some (many?) moviegoers aren’t going to theaters right now out of safety concerns, lack of compelling movies or theater locations reopened is deluding themselves.

The best way for movie theaters to survive is to celebrate new movies coming out and showing on the big screen. When the big three make sweeping statements about how they won’t show movies that “don’t respect the established theatrical window” that’s just being ignorant. Especially in these times when their financial future is very uncertain.

Universal is being smart and getting us movies and AMC is on board.

These shifts leave theaters in a new-product desert. They also put Universal in a strong position to make its first short-window arrangement under the deal it made with AMC Theaters this summer. IndieWire has confirmed that “Freaky” (November 13) and “The Croods: A New Age” (November 25) will go quickly to PVOD: 21 days for “Freaky” (December 4) and 28 days for “The Croods” (December 23). Universal is also offering the titles to other theaters, with the same terms.

Universal Offers Theaters Short Windows on The Croods and Freaky | IndieWire

The other two of the big three chains, which includes Cinemark, Cineworld/Regal where we watch almost all new movies, hasn’t confirmed what they’re going to do with The Croods and Freaky not following the 90 day theatrical window. Since Cineworld has closed most theaters, will they be reopen in time next month to care(?) Unknown.

I believe in giving customers what they want. If moviegoers feel most comfortable watching movies at home then give them the new movies ASAP. If, like us, they enjoy watching new movies on the big screen first, then give us as many of these new movies as you can. Right now, I feel like some, mostly larger, theater chains are interrupting the flow of these new movies due to their fear that this will give them no exclusivity going forward.

I’ve never said completely eliminating the theatrical window is a great idea for every type of movie. Huge budget movies are beholden to the old guard way of distribution which is another reason I’m in favor of fewer big budget movies (see: $100+ Million Movie Budgets Are Stupid — this was written in NOVEMBER 2019, well before the pandemic).

Completely eliminating the theatrical window for all movies will hurt movie theaters, obviously. But, then again, how long are we from this happening anyway? How long before theaters are forced to find other creative ways to attract moviegoers to theaters besides being the exclusive source of watching a movie?

People ride buses, rent cars, take Uber and Lyft, carpool despite the ability to drive their own car. Heck, we have an adult son that is 30 that doesn’t even have a driver’s license and makes very good money at his job. My point is businesses that celebrate giving customers what they want without unnecessary restrictions and fears will stay in business longer.

If movie theater chains don’t want to give us new movies for whatever reason, then they deserve to go out of business. That doesn’t mean the entire industry will go out of business, because a new type of movie theater experience, I strongly believe, will rise up and fill the need.

You can get ice cream at the grocery store on a hot day and yet there are multiple ice cream shops, Dairy Queen, Cold Stone Creamery, Baskin Robbins and so on compete for our ice cream business. They do pretty well selling something we can get at the grocery store and enjoy at home. I sure hope movie theaters are paying attention. It’s more important than ever right now to show customers you care.

4 thoughts on “Universal: The Croods and Freaky Will Have Shortened Theatrical Window

  1. We face the abyss here in terms of cinema; better to close down to ones reliant on Hollywood blockbusters for now, since they pipeline is blockeduntil there’s a chance of them making money. Gives an opportunity for arthouse and indies to shine. There’s a network of parties who made money on cinema; now, they have to rip up the rules and start again, pivot or die…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think it’s the chains not wanting to give us new movies that’s their lifeline at this point. It’s the studios pulling them because they know they won’t make the money back- heck even if people go at capacity they aren’t going to pull in enough money. We’re truly in a vicious circle for cinemas here.

    It’s a very interesting time. Theaters have been holding off major change (streaming) for years and now basically changes are being forced upon the industry by outside circumstances. Hopefully somehow cinema going will come out of this with changes for the better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d agree with that if not for the statements they’ve come out against the theatrical window. The theatrical window is the reason Bill & Ted Face The Music wasn’t in Regal Cinemas recently. Regal would have made more money with it in the theater than without, which is my point. They can’t cry about not having enough new movies (being 100% the studios fault) if they are holding to the theatrical window and preventing new movies from screening.

      So, despite loving the cinema experience, I’m frustrated how their own stupid rules are part of the problem and instead of changing these rules — at the very least temporarily during the pandemic — they foolishly stick to them.

      Also, the big three cinema chains treat Netflix, Amazon and other streamers like they are the equivalent of “made for TV” movies and it’s an arrogance instead of a partnership. They are missing a huge, huge opportunity to bridge a gap here.

      We have more than a few examples of $100+ million movie budgets for films that don’t get a theatrical release because the big chains refuse to do day and date releases.


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