Warner Bros. to produce more than 10 movies for HBO Max in 2022

Hollywood studio Warner Bros. will produce at least 10 movies exclusively for streaming service HBO Max in 2022, according to WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who oversees both divisions.

As Kilar revealed plans for the 10-film slate, he insisted to investors on Thursday that theatrical releases will continue to be important to the company. Nevertheless, he said WarnerMedia can’t deny the recent success of at-home viewing via its streaming service.

“The motion-picture format absolutely matters and it matters in a number of ways,” Kilar said on the second-quarter earnings call of WarnerMedia parent AT&T. “It matters in theaters … They also matter at home … We feel very good about the response that consumers have given it in the home.”

Kilar has been a lightning-rod figure in Tinseltown, swooping in last year to lead a massive restructuring that included sending newly released Warner Bros. flicks like “Space Jam” directly to HBO Max when they premiere in movie theaters, essentially shattering the theatrical window.

Jason Kilar
Outgoing WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has led the charge in shortening the theatrical window.
Getty Images

Kilar said the films made just for HBO Max will only hit c inemas in limited runs at select locations if they are expected to be Oscar contenders.

“In terms of where things go in the future, I think it’s fair to say that, and I’ve said this before publicly, I certainly don’t anticipate us going back to the way the world was in 2015 or 2016 or 2017, where windows were quite lengthy between theatrical and home exhibition whether it was an a la carte transaction or something else,” Kilar said.

At the same time, the company said its pandemic strategy of releasing movies simultaneously on the big screen and on HBO Max will disappear in 2022. Warner Bros. films that are earmarked for theatrical release will run exclusively in cinemas for at least 45 days. Prior to the pandemic, the theatrical window had been at least 90 days.

But all of this is subject to change. In May, AT&T cut a $43 billion deal to spin off WarnerMedia to Discovery, owner of channels like Food Network, Animal Planet and TLC.

 A general view of atmosphere at HBO Max WarnerMedia Investor Day Presentation at Warner Bros. Studios on October 29, 2019 in Burbank, California.
Warner Bros.’ slate of 10 films for HBO Max will only hit select theaters if they are Oscar contenders.
Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Kilar told staffers that he expects to leave WarnerMedia in mid-2022, which is around the time that the entertainment unit’s merger with Discovery will likely close.

During the second quarter, HBO and HBO Max topped 47 million US subscribers, up nearly 2.8 million from the previous quarter. Globally, subscriber numbers hit 67.5 million, up from 63.9 million last quarter.