In December of 2020 WarnerMedia made a surprising reveal, that its entire 2021 theatrical slate would debut in theaters and stream on HBO Max (at no additional cost) day and date. For many this was thought of as the beginning of the end for theatrical exhibition, including the suits at AMC Theatres, but speaking during their quarterly earnings call this afternoon have confirmed a deal has been reached. AMC CEO Adam Aron revealed that an agreement for a 45-day exclusive theatrical window for all of Warner Bros. 2022 feature films has come together, meaning that films like The Batman will only appear in theaters upon release.
As reported by Variety, Aron reiterated that it was "no secret that AMC was not happy" when the HBO Max deal was announced in 2020, but now they're happy ot be back on the same side. "It's especially gratifying that Warner Bros is yet again embracing a theatrical window," Aron said. "For us at AMC, it's especially pleasing to be working so harmoniously with Warner Bros. once again....We're in active dialog with every major studio on this topic. We're hearing considerable support that an exclusive theatrical window is an important way to build a successful movie franchise."
In addition to the Warner Bros. news, AMC announced that the chain will soon begin accepting bitcoin as a method of payment for both tickets and concessions with plans in place to begin taking Apple Pay and Google Pay sometime next year.
So far Warner Bros.' slate for 2022 only has a few movies on the schedule but they're all major blockbuster releases. In addition to the Robert Pattinson-starring, Matt Reeves-directed The Batman, so far their first confirmed release of the year, are several others including the animated DC League of Super-Pets on May 20, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis movie on June 3, the still untitled Fantastic Beasts 3 on July 15, the long in-development Dwayne Johnson vehicle Black Adam on June 29, Ezra Miller's The Flash solo movie on November 4, and the Jason Momoa sequel movie Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on December 16.
Earlier this Warner Bros. made a deal with Cineworld, parent company of Regal Cinemas, to get their films playing at the venues for the rest of the year, something that certainly worked for early releases like Godzilla vs Kong when COVID-19 vaccines were first rolling out. The recent box office take of The Suicide Squad has some questioning the health of theatrical exhibition in the immediate future though as COVID variants begin to surge and vaccine percentages level out, plus the home-streaming option is still available.