Warner Bros. has struck a deal with AMC Theatres that will see the studio respect an exclusive, 45-day theatrical window in 2022 following its temporary day-and-date experiment in 2021.
Starting with Wonder Woman 1984 last Christmas, WarnerMedia decided to release all of its 2021 films on HBO Max the very same day they hit theaters — a pandemic-influenced decision that made waves around the industry, from disappointed theater owners and frustrated filmmakers to alienated A-listers. While some blockbuster movies emerged from the chaos relatively unscathed, such as Godzilla vs. Kong, others, including James Gunn‘s DC movie The Suicide Squad, haven’t fared nearly as well.
“We’re especially pleased Warner Bros. has decided to move away from day-and-date,” AMC boss Adam Aron said on Monday during an earnings call with investors. He also noted that AMC is in “active dialogue” with every major studio, adding that “An exclusive window is an important way to build big and successful franchises.”
The traditional theatrical window used to be 90 days, though studios have been chipping away at it even before the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to capitalize on the initial momentum generated by a theatrical release and its marketing campaign. WB is thought to have cannibalized the audience for many of its blockbusters by making them simultaneously on HBO Max, and though such a decision may increase the streamer’s subscriber numbers, it also opens the door to elevated piracy since a pristine digital copy is so readily available.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues amid a surge of cases involving the delta variant, studios are getting reticent again, and the performance of films like The Suicide Squad may spell doom for fall blockbusters such as Dune and MGM‘s long-delayed James Bond movie No Time to Die. Disney followed WB‘s footsteps by making tentpole films such as Black Widow and Jungle Cruise available day-and-date on Disney+ albeit behind a $30 dollar paywall called Premier Access.
During the earnings call, Aron also confirmed that AMC will take over several theaters that were previously part of the Pacific Theaters/ArcLight chain, including The Grove in Los Angeles and The Americana at Brand in Glendale. AMC‘s stock price continued to recover in Q2, and though it’s clear that the theater business is in trouble once again, Aron seemed pleased with the progress the chain has been making.
Aron also revealed that AMC will soon be able to accept Bitcoin payments in the U.S. for both movie tickets and concessions ordered online, as well as both Apple Pay and Google Pay. A single Bitcoin is currently worth $45,947.90 as of this writing, and Aron is clearly enthusiastic about cryptocurrency as it relates to the future of AMC, as he reportedly took more questions from investors on Reddit than actual Wall Street analysts.
Finally, Aron said that AMC is unlikely to invest in drive-in theaters, as they remain a bad business with limited returns, though the theater chain has committed to buying and building new theaters, giving moviegoers hope that things will return to “normal” one day, whatever that may look like.