How long will movies play in theaters before they air

  • Theater industry executives say movie studios are moving away from simultaneous streaming releases.
  • However, theatrical windows are getting shorter and shorter compared to pre-pandemic windows.
  • Many studios merge around 45 days, but movies can have shorter or longer windows.

During its exclusive 45-day theatrical window, “The Batman” grossed $760 million at the worldwide box office, of which nearly $370 million came from the United States.

It was Warner Bros.’ first film. in over a year of exclusively releasing in theaters after the studio launched all of its 2021 films simultaneously on the


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HBO Max

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While “The Batman” now airs on Max, the change is representative of other major Hollywood studios, which seem to be largely moving away from “day and date” releases as they are called, in favor of exclusive, but theatrical windows. shortened.

Theater industry leaders are influencing studio executives by showing that an exclusive window can help build momentum for an eventual streaming release.

“The exclusive window is in the interest not only of exhibitors but of studios as well,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of movie theater chain Cineworld, told Insider. “The more successful a film is in theaters, the bigger it is in ancillary markets.”

Theater executives say top studio executives have reassured them of their commitment to the theatrical experience — including those new to the industry, such as David Zaslav, the CEO of the new Warner Bros. Discovery, and Brian Robbins, who became head of Paramount Pictures last year.

“The energy and enthusiasm that David Zaslav brings to Warner Bros. and his enthusiasm for the business shows that theater is an important mechanism,” said Rolando Rodriguez, CEO of Marcus Theaters and President of the National Association of theater owners (NATO). “We heard similar comments from Brian.”

During a speech at last month’s CinemaCon exhibitor conference — where studios showcase their upcoming movies to theater owners — NATO CEO John Fithian went so far as to state that the day and the date were “dead as a serious business model”. “

The model is not totally dead; Universal is releasing the Stephen King adaptation “Firestarter” simultaneously in theaters and on Peacock on Friday. Theater industry leaders accept that studios have had to release some films this way during the pandemic and may continue to do so. But they don’t see it as a viable long-term strategy.

“That’s not to say there won’t be distributors who occasionally play around with this concept,” Fithian later told Insider. “But from what we’re hearing from the studios, they’re focusing on their slate of movies for theaters with an exclusive window.”

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Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in “The Lost City”.

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Exclusive cinema windows shorten to accommodate streaming premieres

The typical theatrical window before the pandemic was 75-90 days, which meant a movie would only be shown in theaters during that time before heading to home entertainment. Now, as studios recommit to exclusive theatrical releases, the pandemic has led to a shortened window followed by a streaming premiere, as media companies also seek to expand their direct-to-consumer businesses.

Paramount’s “The Lost City,” for example, debuted on Paramount+ on Tuesday, 45 days after its theatrical release.

Yet streaming is a taboo subject in the theater industry. Studio presentations at CinemaCon were careful not to mention their streaming components.

When Warner Bros.’ chairman Toby Emmerich boasted it was the only studio to regularly release movies theatrically last year, applause cut off; it was also the only studio to release all of its films day-to-day with a streaming service.

Presentations instead focused on box office results.

“The Lost City” grossed $95 million in the United States and $163 million worldwide, an impressive amount for an original comedy in a market dominated by superhero franchises. And “The Batman” was closing in on $800 million worldwide before it became available to stream.

But industry leaders Insider spoke to at CinemaCon said that while a new standard is emerging for movie theater windows, they’re no longer set in stone. Some movies may have longer or shorter windows than others.

“I don’t know if there will be a standard window for every content provider,” said Jim Orr, president of national distribution at Universal. “It seems to merge for about 45 days, but that’s not safe either. Nothing will be as set in stone as it was in the past.”

Below is the current theatrical distribution strategy of each major Hollywood studio:

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