In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros. has announced that its entire slate of 2021 films including big-budget tentpoles like Dune, Matrix 4, and Godzilla vs. Kong will debut simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max, a strategy previously announced for Wonder Woman 1984 later this month.
With the announcement, subscribers of HBO Max will gain instant access to each movie for a month. After that period, the films will leave the platform and continue to play theatrically in the "U.S. and international territories with all customary distribution windows applying to the title."
The studio’s 2021 film slate includes The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, 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, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard and Macho. All films will be available in 4K Ultra HD and HDR on HBO Max.
In a statement, the studio said that the new hybrid model is a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” Ann Sarnoff chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group said. “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.”
Sarnoff explained that with the studio's one-year plan, they "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," Sarnoff said.
Meanwhile, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said that they came with the decision to release the entire 2021 film slate in theaters and HBO Max at the same time after considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021.
“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,” Kilar said.
Like other studios, Warner Bros. opted to delay the theatrical release of some of its big-budget films like The Batman, The Flash, Black Adam and Shazam 2 amid the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.
(Images from IMDB)