Paramount Cuts Down Theatrical Exclusivity for Major Titles to 30-45 Day Window

By Daniel Loria and Rebecca Pahle

Upcoming Paramount releases will be available at home as early as 30 days following their theatrical release. The revelation was made at Paramount parent company ViacomCBS’s Investor Day presentation, focusing on the media conglomerate’s newly rebranded Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) streaming platform, Paramount Plus, which will host exclusive streaming rights for Paramount titles immediately following their respective theatrical run.  

Originally launched as CBS All Access, the ViacomCBS streaming app will now be known as Paramount Plus, assuming several new programming verticals from the ViacomCBS family in its relaunch. Paramount Plus will leverage the appeal of new releases from its eponymous Hollywood studio in order to gain an edge in today’s highly-competitive home entertainment market, which has undergone major fragmentation as media companies invest on in-house offerings as cable subscriptions and video sales continue to decline. 

“Movies will come to Paramount Plus in a variety of ways,” stated Bob Bakish, President and CEO of ViacomCBS during the company’s Investor Day presentation. “First, some of the biggest, most anticipated new Paramount films will go exclusively to Paramount Plus 30 to 45 days after their theatrical release. Second: All other new Paramount movies will appear on Paramount Plus after their theatrical run, some as early as 90 days. In addition, new movies from MGM will also appear on Paramount Plus during the pay one window. Third, the powerful hitmaking studios across all of Viacom CBS are ramping up production to provide a continuous flow of new, original movies made exclusively for Paramount Plus. And fourth, all of these new offerings will be underpinned by a library with over 2,500 titles from Paramount, Miramax, and a number of other leading Hollywood studios, which include some of the most popular films and franchises of all time.”

Paramount Pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos announced a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window for A Quiet Place Part II, scheduled for theatrical release on September 17, 2021, and Mission: Impossible 7, set to hit theaters on November 19, 2021. Other 2021 releases––such as Top Gun: Maverick (July 4), Snake Eyes (October 22), and Clifford: The Big Red Dog (November 5)––will reach Paramount Plus in 2022, following their respective theatrical runs. A 30 to 90 day window will apply to all future Paramount and MGM releases moving forward. 

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“As we always have, we believe in the power of theatrical releases, and we have faith that after things get back to normal audiences will enthusiastically return to theaters. At the same time, consumers have also increasingly embraced streaming as another way to enjoy films, and our strategy accounts for both,” said Gianopulos.

Paramount is the latest major Hollywood studio to announce its own plans to shorten the theatrical exclusivity window. In July 2020, Universal made headlines when it signed a deal with AMC Theatres to shorten theatrical exclusivity of its titles to a 17 to 30 day window, at which point they would be made available for digital rental on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD) platforms. Rival circuits Cinemark and Cineplex signed on to Universal’s “Dynamic Window” in November.

In December, Warner Bros. caused a stir across the entertainment industry when it announced it would release its entire 2021 theatrical slate day-and-date on its own SVOD platform, HBO Max, at no additional cost to subscribers. 

Disney took a slightly different route in its own Investor Day presentation in December, announcing it would make select theatrical titles available on Disney+, some of them at additional cost to subscribers as premium digital rentals. 

Paramount, in contrast to Universal and Warner Bros., has up to this point adopted a title-by-title approach to its distribution strategy over the course of the pandemic. Major titles—including A Quiet Place Part II, Top Gun: Maverick, and Mission: Impossible 7—have retained a theatrical commitment, while other titles have been sold off to streamers. 

Paramount’s first pandemic sale, romantic comedy The Lovebirds, vacated its April 3 release to instead debut on Netflix on May 22, 2020. In the latter half of the year, the studio sold awards contender The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Netflix in the fall while comedy sequel Coming2America was offloaded to Amazon for a March 2021 streaming release.

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