While 2021 has been a trial and error period for both studios and theaters alike, it should come as no surprise that the time of long theatrical only runs are a thing of the past. While the day-and-date release model has been met with strong push back from both of the two largest theater chains in AMC and Regal (as well as some actors and directors), the public spat seems to have come to a compromise. Simply put, the news boils down to this: 2021 seems to be the last year we’ll be able to watch same day releases on HBO Max (and anywhere else for that matter), but films will be available sooner rather than later and all but eliminates long theater only runs.
The announcement came during AMC’s second quarter earnings call, which also included the announcement that the theater chain will be purchasing 8 Arclight Cinemas leases, but not which ones.
Regarding the new release window deal, AMC Chairman and CEO Adam Aron said, “We’re especially pleased that Warner Bros. Pictures has has decided to move away from day-and-date releases and commit to theatrical windows as well. We’re having conversations with other movie studios in Hollywood…We’re seeing the consensus that exclusive theatrical window is a good way to build major motion picture franchises.””
The 45-day window is big change in theater releases, as theaters have long been use to 75-90 day exclusivity before hitting any VOD or streaming service. Obviously the pandemic has transformed the landscape, and both theaters and studios trying to navigate their way through uncharted waters. Warner Bros. has a similar deal with Regal, too, and Universal is reported to have as little as a 17 day window with AMC.
Disney and Paramount will also adopt the 45-day release model, and are in talks with theater chains to run with this in the future. Streaming is still the priority for studios, and while theaters would prefer the box office to still be in the driver’s seat, it looks like everyone is meeting in the middle rather than continuing to cause waves. The day-to-date release has stirred up a lot of controversy, with stars like Scarlett Johansson engaging in a bitter lawsuit with Disney over the streaming release of “Black Widow.”
The film industry continues to change at a rapid pace, and I’m sure that even this new, all agreed upon model will inevitably undergo more changes before 2022 actually arrives. For now, viewers should take advantage of what’s left of the day-to-date releases since, much like long runs in the theaters, will soon be a thing of past.