Warner Bros. Is Releasing Its Entire 2021 Slate of Movies on HBO Max
'Dune,' 'In the Heights,' 'The Suicide Squad,' 'Matrix 4,' and other upcoming movies will all come to your home at the same time they hit theaters.
Warner Bros. is going all in on HBO Max. After the big announcement that Wonder Woman 1984 will hit HBO Max on Christmas—the same day it will be released in whatever theaters are open—the studio has doubled down on its commitment to the streaming service. It revealed today that all of the movies in its 2021 slate will premiere there the same time they are released in theaters.
What does this mean for you?
That you'll be able to watch the likes of Dune, The Suicide Squad, In the Heights, Matrix 4, and many, many more movies from your couch. These films will be available for viewing on HBO Max for one month following their domestic releases. After that month, they will only be available theatrically.
What does it mean for movie theaters?
It sounds like a death knell for the theatrical experience, which has already been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most major releases were pushed off the 2020 calendar with the hope that by 2021 theaters will be open again by then. Now, Warner Bros. is all but abandoning in-person moviegoing for at least the coming year. The company is framing this as a short-term plan, given that it's nearly impossible to predict when exactly a vaccine will be widely available and audiences will feel safe to return to darkened rooms with strangers munching on popcorn.
"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," WarnerMedia Studios Chair Ann Sarnoff said in a statement. "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."
What titles will be available?
So what movies does this include aside from the massive aforementioned titles? The full WB 2021 slate for now is:
The Little Things
Judas and the Black Messiah
Tom & Jerry
Godzilla vs. Kong
Those Who Wish Me Dead
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Space Jam: A New Legacy
The Many Saints of Newark
That's a wide range of films that includes a Godzilla sequel, a Space Jam sequel, a Conjuring sequel, a Sopranos prequel, a Mortal Kombat reboot, and prestigious fare like Judas and the Black Messiah.
Is anyone mad about this?
Well, yes, plenty of people on Twitter, but also Legendary Entertainment, producer of Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, which, according to Variety, may sue Warner Bros. unless it gets a good deal out of this. Per that same report, filmmakers whose movies are being dropped on the platform like Denis Villeneuve aren't too jazzed either.
The question is: Will other studios follow suit? Will Disney, which has already bumped the live-action Mulan and Pixar's Soul to Disney+, start putting other big events like Black Widow on their streaming platforms? What about the one million Avatar sequels? All we know for sure is that WB has made a move that will send shockwaves through the entertainment industry.
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