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When Will Horror Film ‘Barbarian’ Come to Streaming? Will It Be Available on Hulu, HBO Max?

David Satin

Fall is preparing to take hold across the U.S., and that means that Halloween is close at hand. To celebrate Spooky Season, 20th Century Studios is releasing its newest supernatural horror movie “Barbarian” in theaters on Friday, Sept. 9. The film debuted at San Diego Comic-Con to build hype, and is now coming to a theater near you.

“Barbarian” stars Georgina Campbell (“Black Mirror”) and horror veteran Bill Skarsgård (“It”). When Campbell’s character Tess travels to Detroit for a job interview, she books a rental home to stay for the night. When she gets there, however, she finds someone is already staying there. Tess decides to spend the evening anyway, only to learn that there are far more dangers than an unexpected guest in the house.

Check out the trailer for “Barbarian”:

If that trailer piqued your interest, you may be wondering when you’ll be able to enjoy the thrills and chills of “Barbarian” from the comfort of your own couch. The industry standard has recently been a 45-day theatrical window before moving films to streaming, which if applied to “Barbarian” would bring the film to streaming on Oct. 24. But there are several complicating factors that muddy the picture in the case of “Barbarian.”

To start, the movie has been well received by critics. “Barbarian” currently holds a 93% rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. If that praise translates into box office success, the theatrical window for “Barbarian” may be extended no matter which streaming service it eventually comes to.

And which service will eventually host the film also plays a part in figuring out when it will be available. As a 20th Century Studios film, on the surface it would seem that “Barbarian” is owned by Disney, so the movie would head to Hulu when it finishes its theatrical window. But thanks to a grandfathered deal with Warner Bros. Discovery, the film will actually end up on HBO Max instead; but whether or not that is an exclusive for HBO is yet to be seen.

The deal specifies that HBO Max will get exclusive streaming rights to approximately half of 20th Century’s releases, while the other 50% will be shared with Disney+ and/or Hulu once the films finish their theatrical windows, according to reporting from Variety. Disney inherited this deal when it purchased a bulk of the Fox assets in 2019. The agreement runs through the end of 2022, and there is nearly no chance of it being extended.

For example, “Ron's Gone Wrong” was released on Disney+ and HBO Max on Dec. 15 2021 after a 45-day theatrical window. The simultaneous streaming release model may be in the plans for “Barbarian,” but neither company has made the streaming plans public at this point.

This split-rights deal is precisely the reason that Disney decided to release “Prey” directly on streaming instead of theatrically. Had Disney put the film in theaters, it would have had to give HBO Max a crack at the film before releasing it onto Hulu. Instead, the Predator prequel became a hit for Hulu, and the company kept all of the acclaim and attention for itself.

WBD CEO David Zaslav has apparently nixed the 45-day theatrical window policy for Warner movie releases, so films from the company’s in-house studio now appear to be taking closer to 70 days to arrive on streaming. However, since WBD has no vested interest in the financial success of “Barbarian” outside of how it translates to HBO Max, those considerations won’t factor in here.

Also, Disney and 20th Century will have nearly full control of the theatrical window for the film, so unless “Barbarian” is a breakaway box office hit, it would make sense for the film to arrive on Hulu in time for Halloween streaming. So, our best guess is that it will arrive on the streamer on around Monday, Oct. 24, perhaps later in the week to capitalize on the holiday the following week.

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