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AMC Reaches Deal With Warner Bros. for 45 Days Theatrical Exclusivity in 2022

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  • AMC Entertainment has reached an agreement with Warner Bros. to showcase all of the studio's 2022 slate in theaters for 45 days.
  • AMC struck a similar contract with Comcast-owned Universal in 2020. That deal guaranteed theatrical exclusivity for at least 17 days before films could go to streaming or on-demand.
  • Warner Bros. had already announced that it would be returning to cinema-only releases next year during its parent company AT&T's earnings call last month.

AMC Entertainment has reached an agreement with Warner Bros. to showcase all of the studio's 2022 slate in theaters for 45 days.

The world's largest theater chain had balked at Warner Bros.' decision to release this year's films in cinemas and through its HBO Max streaming service on the same day. These films included "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Space Jam: A New Legacy" and, most recently, "The Suicide Squad." It also encompasses the upcoming releases of "Matrix 4" and "Dune," among others.

AMC struck a similar contract with Comcast-owned Universal last year. That deal guaranteed theatrical exclusivity for at least 17 days before films could go to streaming or on-demand.

"It's especially gratifying that Warner Bros. is yet again embracing a theatrical window," CEO Adam Aron said during Monday's earnings call. "For us at AMC, it's especially pleasing to be working so harmoniously with Warner Bros. once again."

Warner Bros. had already announced that it would be returning to cinema-only releases in 2022 during its parent company AT&T's earnings call last month. It had also signed similar deals with Cineworld, the owner of Regal Cinemas, in April and Cinemark in May. The financial details of these contracts have not been made public.

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said during a July earnings call that theatrical releases will continue to be important to the company, even as it creates streaming-only content in the future.

While the hybrid release model was a necessity during the pandemic, there's no doubt that the strategy has eaten into box-office receipts across the board for all studios. Big-budget films have made a fraction of what they would have in pre-pandemic times.

Having exclusive content in theaters can help AMC's cash flow turn positive. The company is setting its sights on the fourth quarter to do this, but it will only achieve this goal if the whole domestic box office reaches $5.2 billion, Aron said.

While the theater chain reported second-quarter revenue of $444.7 million, higher than analyst expectations, it still posted a net loss of $344 million. That's an improvement over the $561.2 million loss it posted a year ago.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of Universal and CNBC.

Correction: AMC said it could post positive cash flow as soon as the fourth quarter if the domestic box office reaches at least $5.2 billion. An earlier version of the story misstated this forecast.

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