While restrictions vary from state to state, most movie theaters in the United States remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Warner Bros. Pictures has announced it will release all of its 2021 movies on the streaming service HBO Max! Read on to discover the details of this incredible streaming deal…
Result of the Coronavirus
Film lovers found it hard to watch Christopher Nolan’s brilliant Tenet, one of the few films released during the pandemic, failed to make even make $350 million worldwide. To put it in perspective, Nolan’s last film, the far-less accessible Dunkirk, made nearly $550 million worldwide. Now, in part due to Tenet‘s poor performance, Warner Bros. Pictures will release all their 2021 films on the streaming service, HBO Max! That even includes tentpoles like The Suicide Squad and Dune.
The movies will debut online the same day they premiere in theaters. Then, after a month, the film will leave HBO Max, remaining in theaters. Meanwhile, during that month, viewers can even watch the release in 4K, and the releases are included in the subscription, unlike Disney Plus’ release of Mulan.
“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do,” Ann Sarnoff, CEO of Warner Bros., stated. “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. If we saw an end in sight to the pandemic, we might have a different strategy. But we don’t see that at this moment.”
For now, Warner Bros. has only committed to the plan for a year. However, as Sarnoff said, the future is hard to predict. As you might imagine, not everyone’s happy about the announcement…
Warner Bros. Relationship With Theaters
The coronavirus has hit movie theaters particularly hard this year. Regal, for instance, has needed to close more than 536 locations. Likewise, AMC has shuttered more than half their theaters, and 40,000 cinema workers have lost their job. So, cinemas are more than a little mad at Warner Bros.’ decision. One AMC representative even said they would “aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
Movie theaters weren’t the only ones upset. Director Christopher Nolan, the man behind Tenet, also said he felt that Warner Bros. had made a terrible mistake. “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” he said to the Hollywood Reporter. Still, Warner Bros. is sticking by their decision.
Motive Other Than Movies
Some detractors think there’s an even more sinister motive behind Warner Bros.’ decision. For those who don’t know, parent company AT&T owns both Warner Bros. and HBO Max. Over the past year, HBO Max has had trouble gaining subscribers. So, some suspect this might also be a ploy to lure film lovers from other streaming services. We’ll need to wait and see! The first Warner Bros. movie, Wonder Woman 1984, debuts on HBO Max and in theaters on Christmas Day.
For now, the company’s standing by their decision.” I can’t comment on the economics of how it will all work — I’d need a crystal ball for that,” said Sarnoff. “But I’m very optimistic that this is a win-win-win for our fans, our filmmakers and our exhibitors. We’re getting the movies out. We’re allowing them be seen on the big screen which is what they were made for, but giving an alternative.”