HBO Max fans better enjoy the concurrent movie access while it lasts. Because it is not going to be this way in 2022. Warner Brothers has already worked out its first new distribution deal with Cinemark, which has been closed due to the pandemic (I can’t wait till that term is no longer in my vocabulary). Under the new deal Warner Brothers will close the window that allows HBO Max to release movies on its streaming service on the same day as they play at theaters. The new agreement will shift the exclusive theatrical window to 45 days. This means that HBO Max will probably use the same model that Paramount plans to use with its movies in relation to Paramount+.
The move puts the industry on a path to a new normal. Theaters had previously had a 90-day window for big-screen releases. And though the window was set for 90 days it would typically be far longer before movies would make their way to home viewing be it by Blu-ray or on-demand. The pandemic and need to create buzz for new streaming services changed the way that studios looked at the theatrical window. They have started asking themselves if constant money month in and month out could be worth losing the potential profit it would make via a long-term widescreen release. Only the top movies grossing of the year have a long run in the theaters. And the ones that play as big-screen spectacles will likely still draw crowds. Especially titles like Avatar 2 in Imax 3d.
Expect to see studios either find a way to stream more of their movies at home within 45 days or license their movies to existing streaming services in the next few months.