Exhibition sources confirm that they have been told to expect “The Batman” will arrive on HBO Max around April 19. Deadline also reported the platform accidentally ran an advance ad for the date; it has since been removed.
Tuesday, April 19 is Day 47 after the film’s March 4 release date. That aligns with Warners’ agreement with major theaters to maintain a minimum 45-day theatrical window, while emphasizing the value of the streaming service in the overall Warner Bros. (soon to be Warner Bros. Discovery) strategy. Warners did not respond when asked for comment.
By the end of its second week, “The Batman” will have grossed about $263 million in the U.S./Canada, the second highest gross for a theatrical release since 2019. Based on normal patterns and its trajectory, the domestic total should be $400 million-$425 million. Only this film and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which nears $800 million, have grossed more $225 million since 2019.
In addition to nearly doubling the gross of “The Batman,” Sony’s “No Way Home” will achieve best-of-franchise status by some distance. The 2002 “Spider-Man” grossed $646 million in adjusted totals. At $400 million, “The Batman” will end up behind three other previous Caped Crusader titles in inflation-adjusted results. The two Christopher Nolan “Dark Knight” films (the first adjusted at $681 million), as well as the 1989 “Batman,” all topped $500 million adjusted.
As Warner Bros. Discovery adjusts to a new corporate structure and influx of key new executives, daily business continues. Last week, their theatrical distribution arm announced changes in release dates, with several key films delayed as much as a year, most by at least a few months.
Sticking to the 45-day HBO Max policy suggests the reconstituted Warners executive team wants to ensure HBO Max is a priority. By comparison, “No Way Home” came to PVOD after nearly three months as a theatrical exclusive. After its first 45 days, the Marvel film grossed another $60 million.
Overall gross for “The Batman” is lower; another 45 days in theaters would likely mean $25 million-$30 million more. And with theaters keeping some of that as their share, sticking to the 45-day plan makes sense.
In 2020, HBO Max became an elevated streaming site with films like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Dune,” “The Matrix Resurrections,” and “King Richard” available at home on the same day they reached theaters. It needs a strong second act to keep and add subscribers.
This year, HBO Max benefits from an agreement with Disney to access Fox studio productions like “Free Guy,” “West Side Story,” “The King’s Men,” “Nightmare Alley,” and others day-and-date with Disney’s Hulu. HBO Max also reached out to titles like the Oscar-nominated “Drive My Car” that wouldn’t necessarily be regarded as prime content for them. The Disney/Fox deal is only a temporary boost and it needs early showings of big films like “The Batman” to encourage retention and subscription.
Theaters would have preferred a delay: Reports of April 19 home availability could mute the film’s theatrical momentum, both for potential first-time viewers and repeat ones. If a film as big as “The Batman” streams after 45 days, it sets a precedent. (Universal is alone among major studios with its set policy that opening weekends over $50 million mean a minimum of 31 days before PVOD play.)
Still unknown is what Warners will do with “The Batman” on PVOD, which delivers an 80 percent return after carriage charges on a typical $19.99 home rental — huge money for a film. Last year, when Warners films opened day-and-date, the studio delayed most titles’ PVOD until 60 days. This is the first film Warners released this year. When “The Batman” goes to PVOD — earlier than 45 days (very unlikely), at the same time, or delayed — will indicate whether the studio prioritizes immediate revenue potential or HBO Max’s long-term interests.
The film production cost is around $200 million. Inside sources say the marketing cost $100 million, which if so is as little as half as top titles sometimes cost worldwide. Its global gross to date is $500 million, with China the last major territory expected to open. It still could reach $750-800 million in theaters and be well into profit before reaching other platforms.
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