Well, I guess it’s time to activate that HBO Max subscription.
Warner Bros. has just announced that its entire 2021 slate with debut on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day. After a month, titles will leave the streaming service and will only be available to see in theaters until they receive a home media release.
So what sort of films can you expect to see on HBO Max next year? Well, here’s the rundown:
- 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
That’s a lot of high profile and blockbuster films heading to HBO Max. WB didn’t even wait to see how Wonder Woman 1984 performed this Christmas before moving full steam ahead on this new hybrid release strategy. Oh, if you don’t live in America, fear not, the films will still be released in theaters in all international markets.
The announcement was made today by Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group (of which Warner Bros. is part) and Jason Kilar, CEO, WarnerMedia. Apparently, this is a temporary 2021 plan, and they do not see this strategy continuing into 2022.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” said Sarnoff in a statement. “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.”
“After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months,” said Kilar. “More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”
Will this strategy work? Honestly, I have no clue. It only works if Americans sign up for HBO Max. Everyone outside of the states still needs to go to theaters to watch the films. And really some of these deserve to be seen on the big screen. Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune, and The Matrix 4 all feel like huge breathtaking epics that would benefit from a larger screen and higher quality of sound.
Now the only question left is if other studios will follow suit with this idea. Disney has Disney+, Universal has Peacock, and everyone else has Amazon and Netflix and their deep pockets. Is WB’s move the first domino?
Wonder Woman 1984 will be the first film to use this hybrid strategy. It will hit theaters and HBO Max on December 25, 2020.
Do you think this strategy is a good idea? Do you want theaters to just shut down forever? Or do you still believe in the theatrical release model? Tell us your thoughts down in the comments?