Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said the chain is in “active discussions” with Universal over windows but choses to do it privately instead of entering “the media fray” that exploded when AMC Entertainment threatened not to show Universal films.
“I know that Universal is committed to the theatrical business” for big films like Jurassic World 3: Dominion, he said. On smaller ones, like Universal’s Trolls World Tour or Warner Bros.’ Scoob — that both went directly to PVOD during COVID-19 – he said Cinemark is willing to talk with both studios ‘in a private business setting” to come up with a mutually beneficial solution. His comments, at the CSFB media conference Wednesday, seemed to discount the fact that lower-end films that don’t stay as long in theaters will have a different windowing model than in the past.
“We think we will be able to come to a business decision with them that we’re both happy with,” he said.
Earlier today, Cinemark unveiled staggered reopening plans and extensive health and safety protocols for its theaters, which will be back in business in July for Tenet on the 31st.. He said the first big releases, Mulan and Tenet, will play on a large number of multiplexe screens (7 or 8 versus 3 or 4 in the past). He thinks Tenet will draw young males and Mulan flocks of families, which is good, but cautioned that recovery is not “going to be like a light switch. It is going be a good solid build,” with 2021 a “transitional recovery year.”
The chain’s goal is to eventually regain its robust pre-coronavirus profit margins. It will continue to conserve cash well into next year against a possible second wave before thinking about reinstating its dividend or diving into M&A, although Zoradi thinks some consolidation in the sector is likely.
“It’s so hard to think of an acquisition right now because it’s hard to know how to price it so it’s not at the top of our list.”