The past two years have completely changed a lot of the movie industry, with studios having to resort to some creative means to get their films to audiences amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most surprising strategies was courtesy of Warner Bros., which elected to debut all of its 2021 releases both in theaters and on HBO Max day-and-date. The method has paid off for some films, and the ever-evolving nature of the theatrical box office industry have made some wonder if the tactic could be used in the future. While speaking at a conference held by Bloomberg, Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff called the theatrical marketplace a "work in progress", but confirmed that the plan is to release the studio's 2022 releases in theaters first, with a smaller window to hit VOD and streaming.
"Have we thought about going back to day and date? Sure, we thought about it, but we have made our commitments to the theaters to the agents to the talent," Sarnoff explained (via The Hollywood Reporter). "Everyone was hoping we would be on the other side of the pandemic by now."
Sarnoff cited the viewing habits that have emerged during the pandemic, with younger moviegoers more willing to attend theatrical screenings while older moviegoers, particularly those of 35, are still hesitant.
"For us to really get back in full swing we need the broader spectrum of demographics and tastes," Sarnoff said, before adding that "big action-adventure movies," superhero movies, and horror movies are currently driving ticket sales.
"As a whole we are hoping by next spring when we have The Batman release, that we will have much more full attendance," Sarnoff added.
Sarnoff previously made similar comments indicating as much, and that smaller films that would have potentially opened theatrically pre-pandemic might head to HBO Max instead.
"And, no great surprise, the ones we're putting in theaters are the ones we think will work. I's not just about budget size, it's also about genre and the behavioral patterns of people," Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Ann Sarnoff told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this fall. "I would love to put dramas and comedies on the biggest screen possible; it's just right now they are opening. Honestly, they weren't opening pre-COVID either."
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