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HBO Max Won’t Stream Warner Bros. Movies Same Day as Theaters Starting in 2022

Jason Gurwin

In December, WarnerMedia shocked Hollywood by announcing that Warner Bros. movies would debut on HBO Max, the same day as theaters. While the company had always said that they were committed to this strategy for 2021, it was unclear what would happen starting next year.

The company reached a multi-year deal with Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas in the U.S., that will see all Warner Bros. theatrical films receive a 45-day window of exclusivity in theaters starting in 2022. This matches what Paramount will be doing for new release films on their streaming service Paramount+. In July, AMC and NBCUniversal agreed to a 17-day release window (three weekends), ahead of any PVOD release.

While all these changes are positive for consumers, who were used to the a 75-day window between theatrical and digital download prior to the pandemic – it definitely is disappointing compared to same-day releases.

The deal will also see Warner Bros. films in Cineworld theaters, like Regal, in 2021, as they are released simultaneously on HBO Max.

In an interview with CNBC earlier this year, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar stated that the decision to release on HBO Max was pandemic related and not an underhanded effort to boost HBO Max subscribers as some theater owners suggested.

“Everyone should take a breather. Let’s let the next six, eight, ten months play out. And then let’s check back in. Certainly this is pandemic-related. That’s why we’re doing it. We haven’t spent one brain cell on what the world looks like in 2022. I learned long ago not to make statements over a year from now.”

Though he insisted that the move came as a necessity because of the pandemic, Kilar admitted that he believes theatrical distribution will remain a key part of the film business in the future. “I have conviction that for the next several decades there will be a very large volume of consumers worldwide that will choose on any given night, especially a Friday or Saturday night, to go out to a theater to be entertained by a great Warner Brothers movie,” he stated.

Starting next year, you will have to wait for new releases starting in 2022, at least for this year – you can still stream movies like Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune and Matrix 4 on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.

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