Huge news dropped today, and to be frank, I’m still attempting to wrap my head around it. This may wind up being one of those red letter dates in cinematic history, folks. Or, it could just be a blip on the radar. Frankly, the former seems much more likely than the latter. In short, Warner Bros. has opted to take the plan they’ve put in place with Wonder Woman 1984 and apply it to all of their 2021 releases. So, next year will have every one of their titles hitting theaters that are open, but also going to HBO Max at the same time. Read on for more…
According to Variety, this is a one year plan, so make of that what you will. Regardless, it’s a huge shift. Oscar players like Dune, In the Heights, Judas and the Black Messiah, The Many Saints of Newark, and Those Who Wish Me Dead are taking this route. So too are blockbusters like Godzilla vs. Kong, The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, and more. It’s a seismic shift, meant to actually have this films see the light of day. HBO Max will get the movies before viewers, but will it spell the end of the theatrical experience? That remains to be seen.
Here’s some of Variety’s story:
When Warner Bros. announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” would land on the streaming service HBO Max on Christmas, the same time it debuts in theaters, many expected it to be an isolated case in response to an unprecedented pandemic.
Instead, the studio will deploy a similar release strategy for the next 12 months. In a surprising break from industry standards, Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate — a list of films that includes “The Matrix 4,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” remake, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation of “In the Heights,” “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark” and “The Suicide Squad” — will debut both on HBO Max and in theaters on their respective release dates. The shocking move to simultaneously release movies day-and-date underscores the crisis facing movie theaters and the rising importance of streaming services in the wake of a global health crisis that’s decimated the film exhibition community.
Warner Bros.’ 2021 release slate also includes Denzel Washington’s thriller “The Little Things,” biographical drama “Judas and the Black Messiah,” a remake of “Tom and Jerry,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” video game adaptation “Mortal Kombat,” “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “Reminiscence,” James Wan’s “Malignant” and sports drama “King Richard.”
In the short term, the move will inject some welcome buzz into HBO Max, a Netflix challenger that launched last spring without generating much sizzle. One of WarnerMedia’s key rivals, the Walt Disney Company has strengthened its share price because of its investment in streaming offerings such as Disney Plus even as its core theme parks and film businesses have cratered. WarnerMedia and its corporate parent AT&T are likely making the move with an eye towards pleasing Wall Street.
Like “Wonder Woman 1984,” the films that Warner Bros. plans to release in 2021 will be available to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days. After the one-month mark, those movies will only play in theaters until they reach the traditional home entertainment frame. From there, people can rent through online platforms like Amazon, iTunes or Fandango. It’s unclear when the titles will return to HBO Max.
Stay tuned for more…