It’s a scary, uncertain time for the entire movie industry, and for theater owners in particular. Covid variants coupled with vaccine hesitance is proving unpredictable for an industry built on bringing people together in enclosed spaces, but it seems that AMC and Warner Bros are banking on 2022 being better.
Variety has the information shared with AMC and its investors on an earnings call that says the massive theater chain (biggest in America) has reached a deal with Warner Bros for their 2022 slate to be released exclusively in theaters for at least 45 days before appearing on HBO Max.
That means the day and date on HBO Max will be gone next year. If you want to see movies like The Batman, Black Adam, The Flash, Aquaman 2, and the next Fantastic Beasts then you’re either going to have to go see it in theaters or wait a month and a half to watch it at home.
On the one hand, this is good news for movie lovers who value the theatrical experience. On the other, we’re still in a pandemic and, unless a lot of Anti-Vaxx folks change their minds, we could be in a perpetual boom and bust cycle with COVID-19, so who knows what the hell the future looks like.
But Warner Bros is banking on 2022 being better. On top of this new deal with AMC, they recently entered another one with Cineworld, which owns all the Regal Cinemas, for the same 45-day window.
Has Theater-Going Been Permanently Changed by the Pandemic?
That’s the $64,000 question. My feeling is that the convenience of seeing a major new release at home on a service you already subscribe to outweighs the “effort” it takes to wait a month and a half or go see it in a theater. 45 days is a long time, especially for those who want to be a part of the discourse.
Maybe that doesn’t affect non-event movies, but for stuff like The Batman and Aquaman? Yeah, it won’t be as easy as deciding to load up The Suicide Squad instead of paying the extra money to see it big and loud at a theater.
What does this mean for the future of HBO Max? Surely that’ll see a dip in subscribers with its biggest drawing point, day and date big event movies, taken away. However, Warners must think the theatrical window means big money, or else they wouldn’t be making this move.
Also of note, that earnings call revealed AMC’s plans to institute Apple Pay, Google Pay, and even the ability to accept Bitcoin for tickets and concessions in 2022 as well.
Now if they’d just make sure all their screens, not just their premium Dolby and IMAX screens, were bright and loud then they’d truly have a good leg up in the fight to pry audiences off their couches.
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