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In a new deal with mega-cinema chain AMC Theatres, Warner Bros. has agreed to return to an exclusive, 45-day theatrical window in 2022.
AMC CEO Adam Aron unveiled the pact Monday during an earnings call. “We’re especially pleased Warner Bros. has decided to move away from day-and-date,” Aron said. “We are in active dialogue with every major studio.”
WarnerMedia enraged cinema operators when deciding to open its 2021 slate simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters. The company has since said that the move was in response to the ongoing pandemic, and not permanent. Insiders add that the AMC arrangement was agreed to in March.
The audacious Aron said it was “no secret” that AMC was “not at all happy” when WarnerMedia made its move after launching HBO Max. “An exclusive window is an important way to build big and successful franchises.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the traditional theatrical window was as long as 90 days. Studios had tried for years to collapse that period, but faced boycotts if doing so.
Analysts who track movie ticket sales say such a simultaneous home release hurts a film’s prospects at the multiplex, as well as encouraging piracy. Over the weekend, Warner Bros. and DC’s The Suicide Squad opened to a troubled $27.6 million as consumer confidence drops because of the delta variant and a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Throughout the pandemic, Disney has likewise made some of its event pics available day-and-date on Disney+ and in cinemas, including the 2021 summer tentpole Jungle Cruise. Often, such titles cost an extra $30 for Disney+ customers to watch; HBO Max titles are free for its subscribers.
During the earnings call, Aron also revealed that the circuit will take over additional locations that were previously part of the Pacific Theaters/ArcLight chain. AMC has already signed deals to manage the leases for the cinemas at The Grove in Los Angeles and The Americana at Brand in Glendale (both were Pacific locations).
Aron didn’t provide any further detail as to the specific locations it is looking at in Los Angeles. The ArcLight chain included the famed ArcLight in Hollywood, home of the Cinerama Dome.
AMC Entertainment posted a smaller second-quarter loss and a rebound in revenue as it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.
After the closing bell, the parent of AMC Theatres recorded a loss of 71 cents per share, which beat a consensus Wall Street estimate of 91 cents, and did far better than a year-earlier loss of $5.38 per share. The loss for the three months to March 31 hit $344 million, compared to a year-earlier loss of $561.2 million.
“In short, AMC crushed it in Q2,” Aron said during the earnings call.
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