The unprecedented move comes on the heels of the studio releasing 'Wonder Woman 1984' in the same fashion.
In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros. Studios has announced that it will release its entire 2021 slate to theaters and HBO Max simultaneously. Earlier this month, the studio announced that the forthcoming superhero flick Wonder Woman 1984 would be hitting HBO Max the same day (December 25) it was released in theaters. Dune (2020) was originally slated to drop on December 18, but has now been pushed back to October 1, 2021.
In addition to Dune (2020), Warner Bros. as a ton of big projects lined up including Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, Mortal Combat, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Little Things, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Judas and The Black Messiah, Those Who Wish Me Dead, Reminiscent, Richard King, The Many Saints of Newark, Malignant, Cry Macho, In The Heights, a live-action Tom & Jerry, and the highly-anticipated The Matrix 4.
While HBO Max is only available in the United States, all films will still be released in theaters internationally.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks 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.”
“This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021,” said Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich. “We have a fantastic, wide-ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we’re excited to be able get these movies in front of audiences around the world. And, as always, we’ll support all of our releases with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well.”
“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 WarnerMedia CEO Jason 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.”
Back in September, Warner Bros. released the Christopher Nolan vehicle Tenet after several delays due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The film was Hollywood's lone attempt at a true theatrical blockbuster for 2020. It only grossed $357 million worldwide against a $200 million budget.
With this unprecedented move, Warner Bros. makes us ask the question - is this all because of the pandemic, or is this just the wave of the future? Regardless, "going to the movies" may becoming a thing of the past. For nearly three decades, one of Disney's most popular theme park attractions was The Great Movie Ride. It closed in 2017. Perhaps it was foreshadowing at its finest.
- Matt Bishop