Warner Bros. scraps same-day HBO Max release strategy for 2022

Regal Cinemas will have a 45-day exclusivity window in the US

Warner Bros. is set to scrap their same-day release strategy in 2022.

The film distributor had previously said they would be releasing all 2021 titles simultaneously on HBO Max and in cinemas, but have now confirmed this will no longer be the case from 2022 onwards.

A multi-year deal has been struck with Regal Cinemas, owned by Cineworld, per Collider, to give the chain a 45-day exclusivity window to screen new titles before they are released on HBO Max.

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Pre-pandemic, most cinema chains required a 90-day exclusivity window before films were released online. More deals are expected to be made with other companies.

Many decried Warner Bros’ decision when announced last year, which meant that major titles including Dune would not be shown in cinemas before being released on the distributor’s streaming platform.

“It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion,” director Denis Villeneuve had written in an incendiary letter at the time.

“Therefore, even though Dune is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street. With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention.”

He continued: “Warner Bros.’ sudden reversal from being a legacy home for filmmakers to the new era of complete disregard draws a clear line for me. Filmmaking is a collaboration, reliant on the mutual trust of team work and Warner Bros. has declared they are no longer on the same team.”

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Timothée Chalamet Dune Rebecca Ferguson
Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in ‘Dune’ (Credit: Warner Bros)

“Streaming can produce great content, but not movies of ‘Dune”s scope and scale,” he added.

The movies Warner Bros. is planning to release in 2021 include: DuneThe Matrix 4The Suicide Squad, The Little ThingsJudas And The Black MessiahTom & JerryGodzilla Vs. KongMortal KombatThe Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do ItIn The HeightsReminiscenceMalignantThe Many Saints Of NewarkKing Richard, and Cry Macho.

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