Regal Cinemas Reopening In April For 'Godzilla Vs. Kong,' Warner Bros. Ending HBO Max Release Experiment In 2022

With an end to the pandemic (hopefully) in sight, the movie industry is looking toward the future. Movie theaters were hit hard by COVID-19, but they're hoping to come back strong, and soon. Case in point: Regal Cinemas have unveiled plans to reopen in April, and their parent company Cineworld has just struck a deal with Warner Bros. for 2022 – a sign that Warner Bros.' 2021 plan to release their films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max will truly come to an end next year.

Will movie theaters rebound after the pandemic? That's certainly what everyone is hoping for right now. And while a part of me still thinks it's too soon to be reopening theaters, the folks in charge of theaters disagree. Which means the Cineworld-owned Regal Cinemas are gearing up to reopen theaters starting in April. Regal Cinemas in the United States will reopen on April 2, while the U.K. opening will happen on May 17. The April reopening in the U.S. will make Godzilla vs. Kong the first big blockbuster to head back to the big screen in Regal theaters.

"We have long-awaited this moment when we can welcome audiences back to our Regal theaters and restore our essential role within the communities we serve," said Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger. "With the health and safety of our customers, staff, and communities as our top priority, we continue to take all the necessary precautions and abide by our CinemaSafe guidelines to confidently provide a safe and comfortable experience. With capacity restrictions expanding to 50% or more across most U.S. states, we will be able to operate profitably in our biggest markets. We will also be monitoring developments closely in the U.K. and across Europe as we set to gradually reopen across the world in line with local government guidance."

Meanwhile, Cineworld has also just struck up a multi-year deal with Warner Bros. As Deadline reports, the deal will "see the No. 2 global exhibitor show the studio's 2021 theatrical and HBO Max day-and-date titles in the U.S. as of their theatrical release. Then, beginning in 2022, Warner Bros theatrical films will have a 45-day window of theatrical exclusivity at Cineworld's Regal chain."

In other words, Warner Bros. is sticking with their HBO Max release strategy for 2021, but once 2022 rolls around, that's done – their titles will be exclusive to theaters, at least for 45 days. I appear to be in the minority among my colleagues, but I've been enjoying the HBO Max strategy and wish it would continue. But I also understand that theaters need that exclusivity to thrive and survive, and there are plenty of people who long for that big screen experience.

Christopher Nolan is one of those big screen lovers, and his latest film Tenet has just been given an extended release in Los Angeles and New York IMAX locations until March 30, per Collider. This decision comes after the film has been selling-out its screenings in recent weeks – which is pretty impressive seeing as the film has been on Blu-ray since December 2020. There might be hope for the theatrical experience yet.