News from early October 2022, including "Yellowstone" moving to Paramount+ in Canada, and answers to questions about the Roku Channel and more.
The Batman, the 2022 film based on the DC Comics character starring Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz, and Paul Dano, among others, and directed by Matt Reeves, was released in North American theatres by Warner Bros. Pictures on Friday, March 4, 2022. To our knowledge, the movie was initially only available in theatres in Canada, the United States, and all other countries.
However, The Batman became available to stream in Canada on Crave on Monday, April 18, 2022, and will premiere on Crave's linear pay TV channels (Crave 1 and Super Écran 1) on Saturday, April 23, 2022, the same dates as the U.S. streaming (HBO Max) and pay TV (HBO) releases. The Canadian and U.S. streaming dates were confirmed one week before, on April 11, by Bell Media and Warner Bros. Discovery respectively.
The U.S. streaming release had been initially reported by American media outlets; they had noted a listing on the HBO website indicating that HBO Max would make the film available to stream on April 19, followed by a premiere airing on the HBO U.S. linear channel on April 23.
Prior to HBO and Crave confirming this news on April 11, WCIW learned about the planned availability on Crave through a daily schedule PDF for April posted on the Crave website on or about March 30 (screenshot for Crave 1 on April 23 available here); The Batman had not been listed in the service's April listings posted on the Bell Media website.
Crave is available for direct subscription starting at $9.99 per month for the single-stream "Crave Mobile" plan which allows for maximum resolution of 720p on a single mobile device or desktop computer. The "Crave Total" plan, which allows for higher-resolution streaming through multiple devices including smart TVs, costs $19.99 per month, with equivalent plans being available at similar prices through most conventional TV service providers. As far as we're aware right now, either plan will allow you to stream The Batman, in either English or French. (All prices are in Canadian dollars and are before applicable sales taxes.)
Alternatively, you can rent or buy The Batman digitally through various retailers, however the initial price of a single rental is more than the price of a one-month subscription to Crave (on either plan). More details on this option can be found below.
This seems awfully quick for a pay/streaming release of a new movie. What's going on?
The Batman was the first Warner Bros. theatrical film in over a year to not be part of that studio's "Project Popcorn" release strategy, under which films like Wonder Woman 1984, In the Heights, The Matrix Resurrections, and others were released simultaneously in North American theatres, and for a limited time on the co-owned HBO Max streaming service in the United States.
As we have discussed at length in the above-linked posts for those other films, although Crave has a long-term deal with Warner Bros. for first pay window (or "pay-1") rights to its films, Crave was not part of that "Project Popcorn" strategy. In fact, neither were HBO owned-and-operated or partner services in other parts of the world. Instead, particularly during periods where Canadian movie theatres were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WB offered a premium video-on-demand rental option in Canada, with the films coming to Crave several months later.
However, Warner Bros. made clear in mid-2021 that its theatrically-released films released from 2022 onwards would only have a 45-day exclusivity period in U.S. theatres, strongly hinting that these movies would begin streaming on HBO Max soon after that period expires.
As noted above, subsequent reporting pointed to this practice taking effect in the U.S. with The Batman, with Warner Bros. essentially moving up the existing pay-1 window that allows the film to both be streamable and air on traditional premium pay television. Evidently, this change will extend to how WB handles the pay-1 window in Canada going forward as well.
Why didn't HBO or Crave confirm this big streaming release until one week before?
The studio behind the film, Warner Bros., was likely very sensitive to anything that could impact the film's box office revenues in the remaining time before it drops on streaming.
If WB started promoting the streaming release too soon, some people that might have been considering buying tickets in, say, the fourth or fifth weekends of release might decide instead to hold off for The Batman to drop on streaming. That, in turn, could raise tensions with the film's financial participants (like co-production partners and, sometimes, actors) as well as movie theatres which are counting on this revenue.
It's likely, then, that HBO and Crave's carriage of The Batman was contingent on minimizing, as much as possible, any promotion for the film's streaming release until this point. However, in a situation like this, it's sometimes very hard to catch all the places where leaks are possible.
Is there any way to watch The Batman at home without subscribing to Crave?
Yes. On April 18, Warner Bros. also released The Batman for premium digital rentals and sales in Canada.
However, at an initial price of about $24.99 to rent, or $29.99 to buy, you will probably be better off simply paying for a month of Crave and watching the movie there, unless you know with certainty you'll want to watch the movie again. (That said, these purchase and rental prices will likely come down over time anyways.)
As of this writing, The Batman is (or should shortly be) available to rent and buy through the following digital retailers:
- Amazon Prime Video Store
- Apple TV / iTunes Store
- Cineplex Store
- Google Play Movies & TV
- Microsoft Movies & TV
- Cable or fibre TV service provider video-on-demand services (on set-top boxes), with providers including Bell, Rogers, Cogeco, SaskTel, Shaw, Telus, and Vidéotron
The Batman will also be available on physical media, i.e. DVD and Blu-Ray disc, with a scheduled release date of May 24, 2022. Prices will be close to the digital purchase price but may vary by retailer.
- April 18, 2022 – added availability on digital retailers
- April 11, 2022 – updated to reflect confirmation of Crave / HBO Max streaming availability