Every 2021 Warner Bros. movie will debut on HBO Max at the same time it arrives in cinemas, the Hollywood giant has confirmed.
For the first month of release, films like Matrix 4 will be available in cinemas and on the US-only streaming service, before disappearing until a more traditional distribution window has elapsed
The so-called “hybrid model” could have a devastating affect on a beleaguered cinema industry in the United States, and have a knock-on effect worldwide if other streaming services take heed and follow suit.
Warner had already confirmed Wonder Woman 1984 will arrive on the service on Christmas Day in 4K HDR, available to all paying subscribers without need for an additional fee. However, it was thought this may be a one-off, given the situation with the pandemic and the need to drum up subscriptions for the new HBO Max platform.
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However, the studio has now confirmed films like The Suicide Squad, Tom & Jerry, The Matrix 4 and The Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, will now go straight to streaming in 2021.
Warner says the plan will be in place for the next 12 months and calls it a one-year measure until the recovery from the pandemic is more advanced and vaccine programs are in place.
“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,” said Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, in a press release.
“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.”
In total there are 17 confirmed movies for 2021 which will now go to HBO Max on the first day of release. The list currently includes: The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho and Matrix 4.