WarnerMedia CEO says exclusive theatrical runs returning in 2022
As the global pandemic continued to rage on with no end in sight, Warner Bros. made the divisive decision late last year that all of their 2021 films would simultaneously debut on HBO Max and in theaters, but now WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has confirmed the studio will be returning to exclusive theatrical runs next year. (Via The Wrap)
In an interview on Vox’s Recode podcast, the studio exec discussed the success they have seen since switching to the dual-release format, namely with the newly-released Godzilla vs. Kong, which has already grossed $285 million of its $330 million break-even point and garnered the largest viewership on the WarnerMedia streaming platform. However, he did make sure to note that despite this, Warner Bros. is looking to shift tentpole releases at the very least back to exclusively debuting in theaters in 2022, which comes on the heels of WM striking a deal with Cineworld, the umbrella company behind the US’ Regal Cinemas, to offer a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity on WB films next year.
“I think it’s very fair to say that a big, you know, let’s say a big DC movie, The Batman for example, it’s very fair to say that that would go exclusively to theaters first and then go to somewhere like an HBO Max after it’s in theaters,” Kilar said. “I don’t want anyone to misinterpret what we’re doing right now as any indication that we’re not believers in the moviegoing experience. I don’t think you’re going to see the world go back to 2016. The world is changing and that’s the way the world is supposed to work.”
Despite the success, Kilar did note he and the studio feel some regret over the decision to shift their 2021 films to the dual release given the backlash they received from many in the industry, namely from longtime collaborators Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve.
“I think it would’ve been very hard to make everyone happy in terms of before an announcement was made,” Kilar said. “If I had the chance to do it over again, I think it’s very fair to say that we would have taken a couple more days to see if we could have had even more conversations than we were able to have. There is a challenge to that, which is you lose the ability to have your story, the rationale as to why you’re doing it, be cleanly communicated. There’s no doubt that it was bumpy back in early December of last year.”
For the time being, WB has a roster of big titles still on the way for both theatrical and HBO Max releases for the year including Mortal Kombat in April, the Angelina Jolie-led Those Who Wish Me Dead, the long-awaited The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights, the LeBron James-fronted Space Jam: A New Legacy, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, James Wan’s Malignant, Villeneuve’s Dune and the fourth Matrix installment.