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What AMC, Cinemark, & Regal Are Saying About New Release Films Going Straight to HBO Max

There is a lot of distress among theatrical distributors regarding WarnerMedia’s decision to release their entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max on the same day they hit theaters.

The media conglomerate made the game changing announcement yesterday, and revealed that in addition to Wonder Woman 1984, films such as Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune and Matrix 4 will all premiere on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.

Well, AMC and Cinemark execs are naturally unhappy with WarnerMedia’s new move as it may render their businesses obsolete if proven successful and other media companies follow.

In their response, Cinemark revealed that they have made plans with WarnerMedia for one film at a time, not an entire slate. “In light of the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a film-by-film basis. At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films,” the company said in a statement.

AMC’s response, on the other hand, was not so tempered. CEO Adam Aron made it quite clear that AMC is not in agreement with WarnerMedia’s intended hybrid model. “Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up,” he said in a statement.

“As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business. We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.”

Regal parent company Cineworld, said that they will be looking for “an agreement about the proper window and terms” when their theaters open in the first quarter.

“Cineworld was aware of WB’s plan to release Wonder Woman directly to its streaming service, which has been announced at a time when our cinemas remain closed in the US (Regal) and UK (Cineworld). We are very encouraged by the giant steps achieved recently with regards to the COVID-19 vaccination process…We believe that at such a time WB will look to reach an agreement about the proper window and terms that will work for both sides. Big movies are made for the big screen and we cannot wait to reopen our cinemas in Q1 in order to offer our customers, as always, the best place to watch a movie.”

The topic of whether or not major films should hit theaters before going to streaming services has been raging since the pandemic first took hold. In July, NBCUniversal and AMC agreed to make films available exclusively in theater for at least 17-days ahead of Premium Video On-Demand (PVOD). This would be drastically shorter than the normal 75-day window between a theatrical and digital download.

The truce came after the two companies had a similar back and forth where NBCUniversal’s Jeff Shell revealed that the success of “Trolls World Tour” digital release had NBCUniversal considering early digital release as a new mode of movie distribution. The statement caused AMC opt out of screening any of Universal’s films.