In a major move, Warner Bros. Dec. 3 disclosed it would launch all 2021 movie releases in theaters and on HBO Max on the same day. In effect, the studio is disregarding the traditional 90-day theatrical window in its entirety for 17 major titles in the pipeline for next year.
Warner previously announced the strategy for its Dec. 25 of Wonder Woman 1984. It will now apply to such films as the Dune remake, The Matrix 4 and The Suicide Squad, among others, which will be available for 30 days on HBO Max, the SVOD service the studio’s parent company, WarnerMedia, launched over the summer.
The hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic, particularly in the United States. Following the one-month HBO Max access period domestically, each film will leave the platform and continue theatrically in the U.S. and international territories, with all customary distribution windows applying to the title. All films will be available in 4K Ultra HD and HDR on HBO Max.
The announcement was made by Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of the WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group (of which Warner Bros. is part), and Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia.
“We are living in unprecedented times, which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” Sarnoff said in a statement. “No one wants films back on the 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.”
Other titles releasing next year include: The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, 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 and Cry Macho.
“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,” Kilar said. “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.”