WarnerMedia made headlines releasing the entire 2021 Warner Bros. theatrical slate concurrently on HBO Max for a movie’s first 31 days of release.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, speaking on the company’s July 22 fiscal call, said the controversial strategy through six months reveals the enduring importance of the box office ($463 million in revenue domestically through June 30) coupled with the impact technology has made on distribution.
“Clearly motion pictures matter and will continue to matter when it comes to theatrical exhibition,” Kilar said. “They also matter at home, and absolutely in terms of the response that we’ve gotten … from all of our day-and-date titles. We feel very good about the response that consumers have given it in the home.”
As the exhibition business turns the page on the pandemic and more moviegoers are vaccinated, Kilar, who is on tap to remain CEO of WarnerMedia into next year heading into the completion of the Discovery merger, doesn’t anticipate movie distribution returning to the lengthy theatrical window.
He said that while some Warner titles in 2022 will have a 45-day window, the studio is also going to be producing more than 10 movies that will be available on HBO Max and in theaters on day one.
“I think that what you’re going to see is this industry continues to evolve, and to continue to innovate in ways that not only works for consumers and fans, but also works for our business partners,” Kilar said.
Separately, AT&T CEO John Stankey said the telecom has heard nothing from federal regulators regarding the merger that will transform WarnerMedia into Warner Bros. Discovery and see Discovery CEO Davis Zaslav running the unit.
Stankey said the regulatory process involves document production and providing information that’s responsive to the government’s requests to begin the reviews.
“No news is good news,” he said. “I’ll tell you internally, all the normal steps are going on to be prepared operationally for when we would expect an approval. It’s not a complicated transaction.”