Regal Cinemas strikes Warner Bros. deal to show 2021 movies alongside HBO Max

The cinema chain is set to re-open on April 2nd.

Regal cinemas strikes deal with Warner Bros. over HBO Max releases (Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures)

Regal Cinemas has announced that it will re-open US theaters on April 2nd with the release of Warner Bros.' Godzilla vs. Kong, Deadline has reported. That will be followed on April 16th with New Line's Mortal Kombat. The chain's parent Cineworld has also struck a deal with Warner Bros. to show its 2021 releases at the same time they're released on HBO Max. Starting in 2022, Cineworld will have a 45-day exclusivity window before titles are released on streaming services.

Warner Bros. had already announced that it would release new films simultaneously on HBO Max and at theater chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eliminating the exclusivity window that cinemas usually enjoy. That led AMC, the leading US theater chain, to castigate the studio, though Regal gave a more measured statement at the time. Warner Bros. later clarified that it would release its 2023 movie lineup in theaters first, but hadn't said anything about movies slated for 2022 until now.

In Cineworld's second largest market, the UK, Warner Bros. has agreed to an exclusive 31 day theatrical window once cinemas open in May. That would extend to 45 days for films that hit agreed upon box office opening revenues.

"We are very happy for the agreement with Warner Bros. This agreement shows the studio’s commitment to the theatrical business and we see this agreement as an important milestone in our 100-year relationship with Warner Bros.," Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told Variety in a statement.

With the coronavirus pandemic, Cineworld had closed 536 Regal theaters in the US and 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse salons in the UK. It temporarily opened some theaters late last year, but quickly closed them when infection numbers went up. Now, with vaccination levels at around 25 percent in the US and over 50 percent in the UK, cinemas are hopeful that re-openings can happen soon and will be permanent.