Warner Bros. announced Thursday that the studio’s entire slate of 2021 films — including blockbusters like Dune, The Matrix 4, Godzilla vs. Kong, and a LeBron James-starring Space Jam sequel — will premiere on HBO Max on the same day as their planned theatrical release. The streaming service operates under the WarnerMedia umbrella.
The industry-shifting move follows the recent announcement that Wonder Woman 1984, another Warner Bros. film postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, would debut on HBO Max on December 25th. Like that film, WB movies will only reside on the streaming service for a month after their premieres, at which point they would be exclusive to theaters.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement (via Variety). “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.”
Other 2021 films now bound to HBO Max premieres include James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, a new Mortal Kombat adaptation, the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, and more.
The massive slate of films also builds some clout for HBO Max, another giant in an ever-growing streaming field that already included Netflix, Apple+, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
Sarnoff added: “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.”
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