I did not see this coming.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Jason Kibler, CEO of Warner Media announced Wonder Woman 1984 would release this Christmas in in US theaters and stream on HBO Max simultaneously, instead of waiting until Summer 2021. The long-awaited sequel to the block-buster Wonder Woman will see regular theatrical releases outside of the US.
Although many were thrilled with the option of watching from their living rooms, this also weighed heavy on movie theaters, who are struggling with keeping their doors open.
We now know that WW84 was only the tip of the iceberg, as today another shocking announcement was released. The powers-that-be at AT&T and Warner Media released news that ALL seventeen new releases in 2021 will follow the same simultaneous theater-streaming release format.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” says 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.”
As the pandemic numbers continue to climb, going to the theaters has proven to be risky, but movie studios and fans alike do not want to wait years before any new releases hit the screens.
Kilar, who broke the news about Wonder Woman 1984’s streaming and theatrical releases last month had this to say: “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. 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.”
Before you think you can simply take advantage of the free-week trial to catch your favorite release like Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day or another potential blockbuster in 2021, think again.
The freebie is gone.
From December 3, 2020 to January 15, 2021, any new subscriber and returning subscribers can get a 22% discount if you prepay for six months at $69.99. This comes out to $11.66 per month instead of paying $14.99 monthly price.
As you ponder the possibilities of subscribing or not, here’s the expected release list currently slated for Warner Bros. Pictures in 2021:
- The Little Things (January 29, 2021) Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto
- Tom & Jerry (March 5, 2021) Chloë Grace Moretz and Michael Peña
- The Many Saints of Newark (March 12, 2021) Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal
- Reminiscence (April 16, 2021) Rebecca Ferguson, Hugh Jackman, and Thandie Newman
- Godzilla vs. Kong (May 21, 2021) Julian Dennison, Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It(June 4, 2021) Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
- In the Heights (June 18, 2021) Lin-Manual Miranda, Stephanie Beatriz, Jimmy Smits
- Space Jam: A New Legacy(July 16, 2021) Sonequa Martin-Green, Don Cheadle, Eric Bauza, Martin Klebba
- The Suicide Squad(August 6, 2021) Margot Robbie,Taika Waititi, Will Smith, Viola Davis
- Dune (October 1, 2021) Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Issac
- Elvis (November 5, 2021) Austin Butler, Tom Hanks
- King Richard (November 19, 2021) Will Smith, Jon Bernthal
- The Matrix 4 (December 22, 2021) Keanu Reeves,
- Sherlock Holmes 3 (December 22, 2021) Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams
- Judas and the Black Messiah (TBA 2021) Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen
- MACRO (TBA 2021)
- Malignant(TBA 2021) Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hassan
- Mortal Kombat(TBA 2021) Jessica McNamee, Tadanobu Satō
One more thing, HBO Max has yet to strike a deal with Roku streaming software. The service that’s used by more than 46 million customers with streaming services in the US, isn’t compatible with HBO Max as of now.
There are workarounds, but most people don’t want to take the time or make the effort to navigate their different devices for their various streaming services.
In May 2020, Roku played hardball with Comcast, that owns NBC Universal, earlier this year and eventually negotiated a deal in order to keep CNBC, Bravo, and MSNBC and others, but AT&T/Warner Media needs Roku far more than Roku needs them.
With thousands of channels available for anyone with Roku, they definitely have the negotiating edge right now.
What do you think of the hybrid release schedule?
If you don’t have HBO Max, does this convince you to add it to your streaming services?
Let us know in the comments below!