In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros has announced that it will be releasing its entire slate of films for the year 2021 both theatrically and on streamer HBO Max. In a statement on Thursday, the studio said that its “unique, consumer-focused distribution model” was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the US.
Subscribers usually have to wait for at least 90 days , the period that studios have long given theatres to play films exclusively, before a film hits a streaming service. But with Warner Bros’ move, HBO Max subscribers will receive instant access to big-budget tentpoles such as Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, The Suicide Squad, monster movie Godzilla vs Kong, and Keanu Reeves-starrer The Matrix 4.
Other movies that will landing at the streamer simultaneously includes Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho, the next Conjuring horror film, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Will Smith-starrer King Richard and The Sopranos prequel, titled The Many Saints of Newark. The announcement weeks days after Warner Bros decided that Gal Gadot-starrer Wonder Woman 1984, a sequel to 2017 blockbuster Wonder Woman, will debut on the streaming service HBO Max as well as movie theatres on Christmas.
Like Wonder Woman 1984, the 17 films that Warner Bros plans to release in 2021 will be available to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days. After the one-month mark, the films will only play in theatres. Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures, said the model is a “unique one-year plan”.
“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 theatres or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films,” Sarnoff said.
“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,” she added.