Well, movie theaters are not gonna like this. On Thursday, Warner Bros. Pictures Group announced that all of its 2021 film slate will premiere not only in cinemas, but also on HBO Max. Per Deadline, this will include such titles as In the Heights, Matrix 4, and Dune.
This news, fresh on the heels of the studio’s announcement that it would premiere Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming platform, signals how the novel coronavirus pandemic has reshaped film release models—and the peril it presents for the exhibition industry, which relies on theatrical windows to draw audiences off their couches and into theater seats.
As Deadline notes, theater chains are likely even more annoyed with the move given the effort made to release Tenet—a Warner Bros. film—in theaters. “This is a temporary 2021 plan,” Warner Bros. chief operating officer Carolyn Blackwood said in a statement. “We have to support exhibition with the product. We don’t think we’re changing the economics of these movies any more than the pandemic has.” The question now is whether other studios will follow suit.