Warner Bros. will return to releasing its movies exclusively in theaters beginning in 2022. WarnerMedia, the parent company that Warner Bros. is a part of, rocked the industry to its knees by announcing that all of the studio’s 2021 movies would be arriving both in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. It turns out this practice will not extend beyond the calendar year, in part, thanks to a new deal with Regal, one of the largest theater chains in the U.S.
According to a new report, Warner Bros. has struck a deal with Regal’s owner Cineworld that will see the chain release the studio’s 2021 movies, such as Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat, which will arrive on HBO Max as scheduled. Then, beginning in 2022, all of Warner Bros.’ movies will be given an exclusive 45-day theatrical window in the U.S. That is still shorter than the exclusive windows that existed before the industry-wide shutdown last year, but still offers an opportunity for exhibitors to rake in box office dollars.
Regal will reopen its first locations again in the U.S. on April 2 for the release of Godzilla vs. Kong. The movie theater chain has been entirely shut down for six months, following the lackluster results for Tenet and subsequent delays of other big movies. In the U.K., Cineworld and Warner Bros have agreed to an exclusive theatrical window as well. It will be for 31 days, with the movie then available to arrive via premium VOD. Additionally, an “extended window of 45 days for films that open to an agreed upon box office threshold.”
This is, undoubtedly, good news for those who value the theatrical experience. Streaming was beginning to take over the media world even before 2020 struck. Now, the glut of streaming services available, with everyone looking to compete with Netflix, has cemented it, in many ways, as the future. But maintaining exclusive theatrical windows is helpful. And it may help keep Warner Bros. in the good graces of filmmakers. The likes of Denis Villeneuve (Dune) and Christopher Nolan (Tenet), among many others, criticized the studio’s HBO Max release strategy. Things got ugly behind the scenes.
This means that some of the biggest movies coming down the pipeline will be available only in theaters next year. Some of those titles include The Batman, Black Adam, Fantastic Beasts 3 and Sherlock Holmes 3, among others. It is conceivable that some titles on the calendar for later this year could be delayed so that they become exclusive theatrical releases. The Matrix 4 is currently slated for December. If it is pushed even a few weeks, it suddenly becomes exclusive to theaters. Dune, currently set to arrive in October, also feels like a movie that might benefit from an exclusive theatrical window. Especially since Villeneuve has been so vocal about his desire for that to be the case. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as any further details are made available. This news was previously reported by Deadline.