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Warner Bros. movies heading to HBO Max after 45-day theatrical window in 2022

Timothée Chalamet in Dune
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

While the movie theater experience remains on shaky ground, due to the rise of COVID-19 variants, one theater chain expects 2022 to be different. AMC Theaters announced today, per Variety, it struck a deal with Warner Bros, with the studio agreeing to a 45-day exclusive theatrical window for all of its major releases. After that, the movies will end up on HBO Max.

WarnerMedia opened up its 2021 release slate, offering audiences the chance to catch titles on the big screen and at home on the same day. The arrangement kicked off with Wonder Woman 1984, which dropped in theatres and on HBO Max the same day in December 2020. 

Warner's major titles such as Godzilla vs. Kong, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and Space Jam: A New Legacy, all fell within the remit of this deal – with each movie then exiting the streamer after 31 days. More recently, James Gunn's The Suicide Squad opened in cinemas and on HBO Max the same day, with pundits saying the release strategy was to blame for the film's box office disappointment.

This means next year if you're eager to see The Batman, Black Adam, The Flash, the new Fantastic Beasts, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, you'll have to head to your local movie theater or wait 45 days to catch it on streaming.

"It’s especially gratifying that Warner Bros. is yet again embracing a theatrical window," said AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron during an investor's earnings call. "For us at AMC, it’s especially pleasing to be working so harmoniously with Warner Bros. once again. We’re in active dialog with every major studio on this topic. We’re hearing considerable support that an exclusive theatrical window is an important way to build a successful movie franchise."

AMC and Warner's new agreement will sunset the pandemic-influenced "day and date" decision. Although, it doesn't take effect until 2022, leaving plenty of must-see upcoming titles on the docket for folks to catch in the comfort of their own home including James Wan's Malignant, the Hugh Jackman-Rebecca Ferguson thriller Reminiscence, Denis Villenueve's Dune adaptation, and The Matrix 4.

Elsewhere on the call, AMC confirms it's in the process of taking over several theaters previously part of the Pacific Theaters/Arclight chain, while also nixing rumors of AMC investing in drive-ins. The theater will, however, start accepting Bitcoin, Google Pay, and Apple Pay for movie tickets and concessions.

To see what's coming up on the big screen check out our guide to 2021's upcoming movie release dates, and if you'd prefer to stay at home for your Warner Bros movies, find the best HBO Max prices and deals.

Gem Seddon

I'm GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter. I'm a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator. You can find my byline on our best Netflix movies and best Netflix shows lists.