After a year of day-and-date movie premieres on HBO Max in 2021, Warner Bros. movies will return to theatrical exclusive windows next year.
According to a Deadline report on Tuesday, Warner Bros. reached a deal with Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, for a 45-day exclusive theatrical window starting in 2022. This means that Warner Bros. films will need to be in theaters for at least 45 days before they can appear on streaming or VOD platforms, including Warner’s own HBO Max streaming service.
This is a far cry from Warner’s 2021 strategy of releasing movies concurrently both in theaters and on its streaming service. HBO Max’s day-and-date premieres for movies did make some sense when it was announced in December 2020, due in large part to the uncertainty of theater openings during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as countries begin to see considerable declines in COVID-19 cases, it seems that Warner is once again comfortable with its movies coming exclusively to theaters.
Regal Cinemas will also be showing all of Warner’s 2021 movies — like Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, and The Matrix 4 — as part of the arrangement. The rest of Warner’s 2021 release calendar will continue to be available to stream on HBO Max the same day they arrive in theaters and will stay on the streaming platform for 31 days.
This new deal gives theaters a significantly shorter exclusive window than the previous 90 days, but that mirrors similar deals made by other studios like Universal and Paramount. Last year Universal came to terms with AMC and Cinemark to release its films into theaters for at least 17 days, or 31 if the movie makes more than $50 million dollars. Meanwhile, Paramount agreed to a 45-day theatrical window for its larger films like A Quiet Place Part II, and a 30-day window for smaller films.