WarnerMedia plans to make its biggest films again in 2022 theatrical exclusives

There is an old saying that it is almost impossible for one spirit from a bottle to return it. WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar will see if he can pull off the impossible. Starting in 2022, WarnerMedia’s biggest tent movies – DC, Harry Potter, MonsterVerse – will play 45 days exclusively in theaters before moving to a service “like HBO Max,” Kilar told Vox’s Peter Kafka in an episode of Recode Media. This is not too surprising given that Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, had previously announced a similar plan.

One of the main caveats is whether WarnerMedia has a similar deal with AMC. Back in March, AMC CEO Adam Aron told analysts on a call for earnings that “you should properly assume that if we play Warner films, we agreed with Warner that any changes in their strategy are done the way AMC shareholders. and they benefit, “but no official statement was issued.

Much like Universal, which has a similar deal with AMC for a shortened theater window, the 45-day exclusive playing period doesn’t mean Warner Bros. must withdraw his films after 45 days. If movies like Batman, Black Adam, or Fantastic Beast III are exaggerated, Warner Bros. can keep the film in theaters longer. Statistically, this is rarely the case. Most films make most of their box office revenue in the first three to five weeks after they are in theaters – approximately 21 to 40 days.Prior to the accelerated pandemic trends (such as the importance of streaming and the imminent collapse of theater windows), studios had to commit to keeping their films in cinemas for almost 90 days. That would have worked well if the studio had been Disney, and movies like The Lion King, The Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4, or Aladdin were attracting north of a billion or two billion dollars.

Most studios don’t see Disney’s overall success in theaters. The requirement for studios to commit to 90 days, especially when those studios belong to larger conglomerates that have streaming services they want to fill with exciting new movies (keep in mind: big titles bring subscribers, a full library of movies and TV shows prevents them from canceling), is unrealistic.

Another indisputable part of the equation is theater attendance. Companies like WarnerMedia and Disney used the closure of the theater in 2020 to justify moving their movies to HBO Max and Disney +, respectively. In countries where HBO Max and Disney + were not available, the films were released theatrically. In some cases, the studies were a success. Tenet grossed $ 305 million globally, while Soul grossed $ 117 million globally, of which $ 57 million came from China alone, making it Pixar’s second most successful film in China ever.

In the United States, they did not come close. Tenet saw $ 58 million in the U.S., while Wonder Woman in 1984 earned $ 46 million. Executives probably assumed this would be the case, and that’s why Wonder Woman 1984 was promoted as an HBO Max title in the U.S., while gaining a greater theatrical boost internationally.

Wonder Woman from 1984

Things started to change with Godzilla and Congo. The film had “a larger audience than any other film or show on HBO Max since its launch,” according to the company, and also grossed $ 32.2 million over the domestic weekend. That’s an impressive number considering the pandemic means that theaters are still operating with limited capacity. Currently, the film has grossed more than $ 250 million globally in just two weeks, prompting leading industry analysts to say theaters are coming back, honey.

One of the biggest differences between the release of Tenet and now is the introduction of the vaccine. When Godzilla vs Kong was released in the United States on March 31, an average of 3.1 million vaccines a day began to be given, according to the Washington Post. The CDC estimates that by April 6, approximately 19% of the United States population had been vaccinated. In states like New York and California, approximately 85% of people will be vaccinated (achieving herd immunity) by July and October 2021, respectively. (New York and California also make up a large percentage of theater revenue in the United States.) In China, another incredibly important market for studies, the government is aiming to vaccinate 40% of its population by mid-year, according to Reuters.

Even if 2021 is a theatrical wash, it’s clear to see why studios like Warner Bros. and Disney want to play nice with exhibitors. People’s appetites to return to theaters when it’s safe enough are obvious; in countries like China and Japan, where the number of cases is lower, domestic film releases have giant turning points. Despite the ominous chanting of industry insiders that “theaters are dead,” you don’t have to look beyond the Avengers: Endgame clips on YouTube to see why people want to go back to their local cinema.

The same thing that was true in 2019 is likely to be true in 2022 as countries begin to see much higher vaccination rates: the style of events, movies about tents will take people to theaters. Everything else can go to HBO Max, Disney +, Peacock, Paramount + or whatever. Although the attendance of the theater decreased on average from year to year, the revenues from the box office increased. Superhero movies (especially MCUs) and big movie hits are mostly the reason why. When Kilar brings out Batman, he doesn’t do it because it’s a random film – he’s the exact type of title audience that will return to the cinema to watch.

Julia Alexander is IGN’s editor-in-chief for streaming. Do you have a story tip? DM is on Twitter @loudmouthjulia or request her signal number by email at [email protected]