Warner Bros is committed to cinemas, says CEO

Warner Bros Discovery
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Warner Bros Discovery boss David Zaslav reaffirms Warner Bros’ allegiance to theatrical releases and exclusivity windows.

Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav has travelled to this week’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas to tell the gathered masses that the studio is committed to debuting films in one place and one place alone” the cinema. Ahead of a preview screening of The Flash, Zaslav made an appearance to the partisan crowd to reassure them that the new rebranding of Max (formerly HBO Max) wouldn’t pre-empt another u-turn in strategy, such as the company’s unpopular 2021 decision to send all of its theatrical slate straight to streaming.

Theatrical exclusivity windows may have shrunk across some parts of the world, including the US. But the ‘day and date’ dual release strategy approach, not to mention straight-to-streaming releases, seems to be less common, at least for films that have a shot at succeeding in a cinema. Smile's stunning success for Paramount last October gave studios real pause for thought though, with the streaming-bound film making head-turning money when the studio instead decided to chance a theatrical run based on strong test screenings.

Zaslav had this to say about cinema releases and exclusivity windows: “We believe in full windowing. We are in no rush to bring movies to Max. It is a great service. Movies that open in theatres perform substantially better than any of the direct-to-streaming movies.”

That will be music to the ears of cinema operators who are finding themselves on the end of better news in the past few months than they’ve been used to over the past few years. The fact that it’s Warner Bros (following that disastrous HBO Max streaming announcement in 2021) loudly proclaiming the importance of cinemas will likely only make the words ring sweeter, as will Zaslav’s promise that Warners will continue to ramp up its quantity of film production.

Whilst Zaslav won’t be shaking off his reputation as ‘The Batgirl Killer’ anytime soon, the reputation of his studio will enjoy a small bump with this announcement. We’ll bring you more news from CinemaCon as we hear it.

The Hollywood Reporter

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