In a surprising announcement, Warner Brothers has made a call to release the 17 films it has in production for 2021 directly to HBO Max in tandem with their theatrical windows.
This announcement is coming off the heels of WB announcing Wonder Woman 1984’s premiere on the service on Christmas Day and subsequent rumors that the studio was attempting to sell Godzilla vs. Kong to Netflix for $200 million.
As was broken by The Wrap:
“Just as “Wonder Woman 1984” will be released on Christmas Day both in theaters and on HBO Max, Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate will play on the WarnerMedia streaming service and theatrically worldwide. However, every film will be available for just one month on HBO Max before it leaves the platform, and it will then continue playing theaters with normal distribution windows”
The move is an unprecedented one for an industry that’s already hemorrhaging money left and right. With major studio releases like Tenet underperforming at the box office, most every major movie release was delayed out of 2020.
The shift would suggest a last ditch attempt to scrounge what they can put of their business before the market runs dry. As the second wave of Coronavirus is raging, it’s unknown when (if) mass audiences will be comfortable returning to movie theaters again.
Assuming the industry doesn’t resuscitate, these studio blockbusters may represent the last of their breed before the market conforms to the needs of an all digital/streaming marketplace for film and entertainment.
At the moment, the following films are slated for a month long HBO release: Wonder Woman 1984, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom and Jerry, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho and possibly more.