With movie theaters reopening around the world, film studios are renegotiating their theatrical exclusivity windows, and Warner Bros. took a significant bite out of its deals.
Before the coronavirus, movie studios had 90-day exclusivity windows with movie theaters. This guaranteed the theaters had a good run at maximizing ticket sales, but it meant studios couldn’t have a home video release for three months. As the pandemic closed theaters worldwide, the studios released some films straight to home video, while others went with a hybrid release model that saw movies playing both theatrically and at home.
For all of its 2021 film releases, Warner Bros. went with a day-and-date hybrid release model that has films debuting on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time. After 31 days, the films leave HBO Max to spend another 31 days being exclusive to theaters. That arrangement will change with the studio’s 2022 releases.
Warner Bros. has reached an agreement with the Cineworld theater group that will see films be exclusive to cinemas in the U.K. for 31 days unless a film meets certain targets, and then it could be extended to 45 days. In the U.S. at Regal Cinemas – a division of Cineworld – the deal will stand at 45 days.
Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger said of the deal, “We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros. This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.”
The plans established for the 2021 film schedule remain as announced.
While this deal does not yet extend to other chains or studios, analysts predict this is an example of what the road map will be going forward.