Warner Bros. is done experimenting with HBO Max, returning to Theatrical Releases in 2022
Last year, Warner Bros. decided to release their major releases simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max for 30 days. This was great news for people living in self-isolation due to the pandemic. And many people even prophesized that this could be the end of cinema as we know it. However, this experiment did not last long. Now, Warner Bros. has decided to revert the policy for 2022, sticking to just theatrical releases.
Warner Bros. ends their experiment with HBO Max
Warner Bros. made the announcement while announcing their new deal with Regal Cinemas owner Cineworld. They are the second-largest theatre chain in the world, which has been shut down due to the pandemic. Now, Regal’s theatres have announced that they’re going to reopen in April, and they’ll reopen by showing Warner Bros. films like Kong vs. Godzilla and Mortal Kombat.
Furthermore, Regal theatres will also have exclusive rights to show all of Warner Bros.’s releases in 2022. However, unlike past deals in which the exclusivity window lasted for 90 days, it’ll only be a 45-day theatrical exclusivity window. And this is in line with the current market trends, with other studios like Universal Cinemas and Paramount also announcing the same deals.
But, in 2022, the studios will not be giving HBO Max any rights to stream their movies at the time of their theatrical releases. The streaming service will no longer compete with theatres for upcoming Warner Bros. releases. It’s probably a financial decision and shows that despite the popularity of streaming, it can never replace the cinema experience. Moreover, this step by the studios received a lot of criticism, particularly from director Christopher Nolan. He said on multiple occasions how the studios didn’t take the filmmakers on board for this policy. And he also specified how HBO Max is a bad streaming service, saying:
Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don’t even understand what they’re losing. Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.