WarnerMedia has dropped an industry-shaking announcement in the US.
Following the news that Wonder Woman 1984 would be released in US cinemas and Warner Media-owned streaming service HBO Max on the same day, now comes word that all of the planned Warner Bros. releases for 2021 will follow suit!
It will be business as usual internationally (including for us in Australia), with films such as Dune and The Suicide Squad hitting cinemas first, but in the US the films will drop simultaneously in theatres and streaming. The studio has announced that the films will be made available to watch on HBO Max for one month following release, at which point it will leave the service and continue the regular distribution route (a cinema run and then home entertainment release) before eventually returning to HBO Max.
Here’s the list of Warner Bros. films that will be getting a same-day theatrical-digital drop in 2021:
- The Little Things
- Judas and the Black Messiah
- Tom & Jerry
- Godzilla vs. Kong
- Mortal Kombat
- Those Who Wish Me Dead
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
- In the Heights
- Space Jam: A New Legacy
- The Suicide Squad
- The Many Saints of Newark
- King Richard
- Cry Macho
- Matrix 4
“The hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic,” the company said. Indeed, studios have been looking at how to release their films as a number of cinema chains, particularly in the US, remain closed during this period. And with uncertainty regarding just when doors will swing wide open and audiences will be willing to flock to cinema rooms again, it appears that this may be the best way to avoid having potential blockbusters sitting on the shelf – without the chance of recuperating those costs. It’s a two-fer for Warner: get films in whatever cinemas are available and simultaneously drive customers to the streaming service.
Here’s a statement from said Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group:
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021. With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”
Of course, it’s another blow for cinemas. Said US cinema chain AMC:
“These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height. However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover. Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.
We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.As this issue gets sorted out, we are nonetheless encouraged that vaccines protecting society at large against the coronavirus are very much at hand. So, it is our expectation that moviegoers soon will be able once again to delight in coming to our theatres without any worry — viewing the world’s best movies safely in our big seats, with our big sound and on our big screens.
Here’s the HBO Max promo for the big news: