Regal Cinemas owner Cineworld has shared their thoughts on the Warner Bros. 2021 hybrid release schedule. Warner Bros. shocked the world yesterday when they announced that they were going to release all of their 2021 movies in theaters and HBO Max simultaneously. This includes tentpoles like The Suicide Squad, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, and The Matrix 4. While the thought of being able to watch these movies from home sounds appealing to viewers, it does not look too great for movie theater owners.
Cineworld seems to have been just as caught off guard by the Warner Bros. news as the rest of the world. AMC Theatres made it abundantly clear that they are not happy with the studio's decision, after originally backing the idea to release Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters and HBO Max starting Christmas Day. Cineworld has hopes that a deal will be made between the studios in the coming future. You can read their statement below.
"Cineworld was aware of WB's plan to release Wonder Woman directly to its streaming service, which has been announced at a time when our cinemas remain closed in the US (Regal) and UK (Cineworld). We are very encouraged by the giant steps achieved recently with regards to the COVID-19 vaccination process, which is expected to be put in place earlier than previously anticipated. This will generate significant relief for our industry and enable our cinemas to make a great comeback. We believe that at such a time WB will look to reach an agreement about the proper window and terms that will work for both sides. Big movies are made for the big screen and we cannot wait to reopen our cinemas in Q1 in order to offer our customers, as always, the best place to watch a movie."
Universal Pictures made deals with Cinemark and AMC earlier this year, providing shorter theatrical release windows for certain movies. In addition to the shorter windows, theaters will be compensated with a percentage of the streaming revenue. It was believed that Warner Bros. went ahead and did something similar, but that has proven to not be the case.
Movie theaters in North America and other parts of the world have largely been shut down since the middle of March. Most of the major studios took all of their big 2020 releases and delayed them to 2021, leaving theaters that were able to stay open without any new material. Universal put Trolls World Tour out On Demand and in select theaters, while Disney experimented with a premium price for Disney+ subscribers to watch the live-action adaptation of Mulan.
Disney+ will premiere the long-awaited Soul on Christmas Day at no additional cost to subscribers as they try and test the waters for the future. As for Warner Bros., they seem to be banking on making HBO Max as big as it can possibly be, while ignoring movie theater concerns at the same time. Deadline was the first to report on Cineworld's thoughts about the Warner Bros. 2021 release schedule.