Regal Cinemas will reopen in the U.S. on April 2 after six months of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parent company Cineworld said Tuesday. Additionally, Cineworld revealed it has reached an agreement with Warner Bros. for a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity on the studio’s films, with certain provisions, beginning in 2022.
“We have long-awaited this moment,” Mooky Greidinger, the chief executive of Cineworld, said in a statement about the reopening of the chain in the U.S. “With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets.”
Cineworld’s new multiyear agreement with Warner Bros. shortens the traditional theatrical window that films have had before they hit on-demand streaming services, with 45 days in the United States and 31 days in Britain. Cineworld locations in the U.K. will reopen in May.
The reopening of Regal Cinemas in the U.S. will line up with the release of two big Warner Bros. films, “Godzilla vs. Kong” on April 2 and “Mortal Kombat” on April 16. As with all of the movies on Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate, these films will debut on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max on the same day that they become available in theaters.
Cineworld made the decision last October to temporarily shutter all of its movie theater locations, including 543 Regal Cinemas in the U.S. as well as 127 movie theaters in the U.K. and Ireland. Regal is the second largest cinema chain in the U.S., and the move affected 45,000 employees in America and abroad.
The deal for a 45-day theatrical window follows a similar move last month by Paramount, which announced plans to begin streaming two big 2021 tentpoles, “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Mission: Impossible 7,” on its new Paramount+ streaming service 45 days after the films hit theaters.
AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest cinema chain, made a deal with Universal last July that would give AMC theatrical exclusivity on certain films for as little as 17 days, with the chain sharing a portion of the revenue from premium video on demand.
At the time before the country had a clearer sense of just how long the virus would last, the move was seen as hugely disruptive and busting of the traditional theatrical window model. Greidinger even called the deal “a wrong move.”