'The Batman' pushed to 2022 as Warner Bros. shuffles film lineup

Key Points
  • "The Batman" has been postponed until 2022 after "Dune" was pushed to 2021 and more than 500 Cineworld theaters were closed.
  • "Black Adam" has been removed from Warner Bros. calendar.
  • U.S.-based theater chain stocks cratered on Monday.
Robert Pattinson dons the cowl in Matt Reeves' "The Batman."
Warner Bros.

More than 500 movie theaters in the U.S. will close before this weekend, sending the film industry into a tailspin.

On Monday, Warner Bros. re-positioned a number of hotly anticipated movies on its calendar including "Dune" and now "The Batman."

Earlier Monday, Cineworld said it would temporarily shutter all of its U.S. and U.K. movie theaters due to disappointing box office results and the postponement of films like "Black Widow," "Wonder Woman 1984," and "No Time to Die."

The move from Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas, means more than 7,000 movie screens will disappear for the foreseeable future. That loss has forced Warner Bros. to rethink its distribution strategy.

In addition to postponing "Dune," the studio has moved its new "Matrix" film to December 2021, "The Batman" has moved into 2022 and "Black Adam" no longer has an official release date.

The postponement could be a boon for "The Batman," which saw its production shut down after lead actor Robert Pattinson tested positive for the coronavirus in early September. The comic book movie had been delayed for months due to the pandemic and had only just restarted production when it was forced to pause for two weeks. 

The film has resumed shooting in the U.K. and is expected to wrap by the end of the year.

The Cineworld closures and the changes in the film calendar led cinema stocks to crater on Monday. AMC fell more than 11%, Cinemark was down more than 17% and Marcus Theaters saw its shares slip more than 6%.

It is likely that more studios will push their films and that more cinemas will be forced to close or alter operations.

"If theaters are closed, the studios have a reason to delay," Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush, said in an email to CNBC. "Keep in mind that the slowdown/stoppage of production from March – July impacted the 2021 slate, so these delays are back-filling holes created by a production stoppage."

 Changes to Warner Bros. film slate

  • "Dune" moves to Oct. 1, 2021
  • "Untitled Matrix Film" now dated Dec. 22, 21
  • "The Batman" slated for Mar. 4, 2022
  • "The Flash" pushed to Nov. 4, 2022
  • "Shazam! 2" will now arrive June, 2, 2023
  • "Black Adam" is now undated
  • "Minecraft" is also undated
Saving grace for cinemas is that studios have yet to find another release window: Media analyst
Saving grace for cinemas is that studios have yet to find another release window: Media analyst