Regal Cinemas will officially be allowed to screen Warner Bros. movies before they go to streaming, after the studio struck a deal with Cineworld, Deadline reports. Regal Cinemas will open 500 locations in April, and will premiere WB’s movies on the same day they go to streaming.
In 2022, Regal gets an exclusive 45-day theatrical window starting, marking a departure from WB’s divisive 2021 model, which will see its entire slate of films being released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.
As the world begins crawling back to some semblance of normalcy, studios are being forced to grapple with how to proceed, Despite their best efforts, the pandemic forced the industry to reckon with the reality that streaming services are the future of the entertainment industry. As other studios tried to thread the needle when it came to appeasing both theater chains and streamers, Warner Bros. opened Pandora’s box with the announcement that many of its biggest films would premiere on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day.
Whether WB’s big swing was solely meant to make a huge splash in a crowded streaming market that would drive droves of subscribers in its direction, or simply a response to an impasse in theatrical releases in the midst of the pandemic, this latest deal with Cineworld shows that the studio doesn’t want to make the simultaneous movie release its new norm.
Instead, WB appears to be mirroring Paramount’s theatrical release template, which also puts its films in theaters for 45 days before moving over to Paramount+. The deal with Cineworld will likely open the door for discussions with other companies, like AMC Theaters, but judging from these last two agreements, the 45-day exclusivity window is shaping up to be the temporary sweet spot for both sides.