How Long Do Movies Stay in Theaters? We Will Never Have an Easy Answer Again [IndieWire]

How Long Do Movies Stay in Theaters? We Will Never Have an Easy Answer Again [IndieWire]


September 21, 2023 | A funny thing happened this summer: Movies weren’t in such a hurry to be seen at home. The average theatrical window for films released from May through June will end up more than 40 days — a significant increase compared to January-April, when the theatrical window fell to an average of 30 days.

Is this a trend? Probably, but not the one that theaters might hope for: It means we might expect theatrical windows to rise and fall based on seasonality and other circumstances. It’s a flexibility that works for studios trying to maximize their revenue streams. For theaters trying to do the same, or for a public that would like to be less confused about where and when they can see a film? Not so much.

Pre-COVID, it was close to inviolate that PVOD waited at least 70 days; reduced-price VOD happened after three months. Of the 33 wide-release films this summer, only “Oppenheimer” (Universal) and “Sound of Freedom” (Angel) remain in release after 60 days or more and have not announced home availability.

“Oppenheimer” is likely to see at least a 90-day window. (“Tenet” had over 100.) That meant the greatest variation from Universal’s standard policy (18 days for films that open under $50 million; for high grosses or limited openings, a little longer), but the studio knew that when it won Nolan from Warner Bros., his former home.

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