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WarnerMedia Reaches Deal with AMC to Show Warner Bros. Films Exclusively In-Theaters For 45 Days

Jason Gurwin

Last 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 only, it won’t continue into 2022.

Following a similar deal they made with Cineworld (parent of Regal Cinemas), they reached a deal with AMC Theaters that will see all Warner Bros. films receive a 45-day window of exclusivity in theaters starting in 2022.

On their Q2 2021 Earnings Call, Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Entertainment said: ” I’m also pleased to announce today that AMC just reached formal agreement with our friends at Warner Bros. to show all of their movies in calendar year ‘22, importantly respecting an exclusive theatrical window of 45 days prior to home release for all Warner Bros. films.”

He continued: “It’s no secret that AMC was not at all happy when Warner decided in December to take movies to the home on HBO Max simultaneously with theatrical release. Therefore, it’s especially gratifying that Warner is yet again embracing an exclusive theatrical window. And for us at AMC, it’s especially pleasing to be working so harmoniously with Warner Bros. once again. We actually are in dialogue, active dialogue with every major studio on this very important topic. We are hearing considerable support in Hollywood that an exclusive theatrical window is an important way to build big and successful movie franchises.”

This matches what Paramount will be doing for new release films on their streaming service Paramount+. In July 2020, 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.

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 Warner Bros. releases starting in 2022, at least for this year – you can still stream movies like Dune and Matrix 4 on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters. The company also said they have plans for 10 films to debut exclusively on HBO Max in 2022.

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