Iconic Events Extends Deal to Air UFC Fights in Movie Theaters Through 2022

Deal gives Iconic a major portion of the growing events sector at the box office

UFC Iconic Events

Iconic Events has reached a deal with UFC to continue presenting the MMA promotion’s pay-per-view events in theaters nationwide through the end of 2022.

The partnership between Iconic and UFC began in January 2021 before most movie theaters even reopened with a pay-per-view event headlined by Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Iconic is aiming to appeal to MMA fans by giving them a way to see the biggest fights in an arena-esque environment with dozens of other fans and at a $25 price tag that is considerably cheaper than the $75-80 PPV prices on ESPN+.

“UFC is the ultimate theatrical sporting event – there’s simply nothing like experiencing these highly entertaining, competitive, and captivating fights on the big screen,” Iconic Events CEO Steve Bunnell said Tuesday. “UFC athletes are the best in the world and seeing them on giant movie theatre screens with the high-end sound cranked up is a thrilling way to watch them.”

“This partnership with Iconic is yet another incredibly effective way to continue to build the profile of our athletes, bring awareness to our most important events, and to provide yet another exciting way to experience UFC’s live product,” UFC senior VP of International and Content David Shaw said. “The team at Iconic are terrific partners, and we know they’ll make these fights a must-see draw to movie theatres for UFC fans nationwide.”

The partnership extension also comes as event releases have gained more prominence at the box office as movie theaters have looked for ways to shore up revenue while grosses for traditional films remain well below pre-pandemic levels.

In the past month, a simulcast of BTS’ first concert in Seoul since the pandemic began grossed $6.8 million from a single Saturday screening in North America and a record $32 million worldwide. This past weekend, limited engagement screenings of the Indian blockbuster “RRR” were sold at event release prices and grossed $9 million in the U.S.

The growth of UFC in theaters also reflects a growing presence of event releases in theaters on weekends. Whereas prior to the pandemic event releases were largely reserved for weekdays by theaters, more cinemas have become interested in screening special events and live sports on Saturdays and Sundays to draw more customers, particularly on weekends where no major film releases are coming.

While the next few weekends will not be the case with films like “Morbius” and “Ambulance” hitting theaters, Iconic will return to theaters with a broadcast of UFC’s next event on Saturday, April 9, headlined by a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Chan Sung Jung and a bantamweight title rematch between Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan.