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Movie Theaters’ Comeback Strategy and The Batman’s Big Weekend

Bouncing Back at the Box Office

The Batman’s opening over the weekend marked the first time in over a year that Warner Bros. (T) exclusively released a film in movie theaters. In 2021, both Suicide Squad and Dune were released in a hybrid fashion, simultaneously opening at theatres and on streaming platform HBO Max. Analysts say while that boosted streaming, it hurt theaters.

IMAX (IMAX) had a big weekend thanks to DC Comics’ caped-crusader, hauling in $22.3 million in ticket sales. That represented the movie theater chain’s best March opening since 2019, prior to the pandemic. Imax executives praised Warner Bros.’ launch plan and said it showed the “power” of a theatrical-first approach.

Exceeding Super Expectations

The movie industry’s biggest success stories continue to involve superheroes, with the December 2021 debut of Spider-Man: No Way Home breaking records as the pandemic wanes. Now, analysts argue The Batman’s strong opening shows the broader box office breakout is underway.

Ticket sales as of Sunday were estimated by Warner Bros. at around $128.5 million, easily beating the studio’s opening weekend expectations of around $90 million. Warner Bros. executives faced a difficult decision several months ago as the Omicron variant entered the picture, but they decided to move forward with the March release. Now, they’re enjoying the film’s success and also praising movie theaters for their planning and execution.

What’s Next for Theaters: Dynamic Pricing

Industry observers were largely surprised when AMC (AMC) announced plans to charge moviegoers anywhere from $1 to $2 more for The Batman tickets when compared to other films being screened at the same time. All movies typically cost the same price for a ticket, unless things like 3D screens and other options are involved.

Analysts contend this is a wise strategy and one customers can expect to encounter when viewing blockbuster movie titles. It seems the pandemic provided movie theaters with an opportunity to experiment with dynamic pricing, — something Regal Cinemas and Cinemark Theaters (CNK) did for Spider-Man: No Way Home, albeit with less fanfare. The Batman may be marking a new era for movie theaters — both in terms of a COVID-19 comeback and pricing strategy.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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