In an unprecedented but not entirely surprising move, Warner Bros has announced the studio will release its entire 2021 movie slate simultaneously in cinemas and on HBO Max. This means that subscribers to the US streaming service will have automatic access to some of next year’s biggest blockbusters from Dune and The Suicide Squad to The Matrix 4 for the first month of cinematic release. Following that one month period, the films will continue to screen exclusively in movie theatres.
WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said: “We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures 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.”
Here is the current list of Warner Bros’ 2021 movies:
While Wonder Woman 1984 will release in UK cinemas on December 16 in Tiers 1 and 2.
But now the film will reportedly play for just one month after that date before heading straight to streaming on Sky.
According to Variety, discussions between Warner Bros and Comcast operator Sky are in the advanced stages regarding Wonder Woman 1984 moving to PVOD.
This would mean that the DC movie would be available to rent digitally in January for a fee of presumably around £15.99 like Warner Bros’ The Witches earlier this autumn.
So, with this in mind, perhaps Sky/NOW TV with be the PVOD home of Warner Bros’ 2021 releases in the UK.
Whatever happens, this doesn’t look like a temporary measure for the pandemic, with Telegraph film critic Robbie Collin arguing on Twitter: “The Warner Bros/HBO Max deal is the long, long, long-awaited triumph of pragmatism.
“It gets big films back into cinemas where they belong, while finally admitting 2021 is not going to be 2019 again – or even close. Now watch the scramble to catch up.
“Also, re this being a one-year-only thing: this is not going to be a one-year-only thing.”