In a groundbreaking move, Warner Bros. will debut 17 films, including the much anticipated Dune and Matrix 4, on HBO Max the same day the films will hit theaters.
The movies will stream on the service for one month starting the day each is released in theaters.
The announcement comes after Warner Bros. revealed that Wonder Woman 1984 will stream on HBO Max as well as in theaters on December 25.
Along with Dune and Matrix 4, Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate also includes the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation of In the Heights, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, and The Suicide Squad.
According to the official release from Warner Bros., the unmatched distribution model “was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic.”
WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff also referred to the model as a “unique one-year plan,” adding, “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.”
The business move disrupts a model that has been secure for decades, and although Warner Bros. highlighted that their deal was temporary, theater owners are likely to be upset or worried about how this will shape movie-watching going forward.
“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,” said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar of the move.
“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.”
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