Click here to read the full article.
WarnerMedia didn’t have to wait until Wonder Woman 1984 debuted both on HBO Max and in theaters: The Burbank, CA-based Warner Bros is putting its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max for the films’ respective first month of release, concurrent with a global cinema release.
Following the one-month HBO Max access period domestically, each film will leave the platform and continue theatrically in the U.S. and international territories, with all customary distribution windows applying to the title.
And get a load of what you’ll be able to see in-home next year: Denzel Washington’s 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.
This morning’s release reads, “The hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic.” Movie theaters aren’t apt to be entirely happy with this and it will be interesting to see what they charge for admission to the Warner Bros’ movies. Exhibition busted their butts to get open for Tenet, and today’s news may come to some a thumb in the eye.
That said, look at WarnerMedia’s dilemma: Is it better for the studio to re-shelve its entire slate and collect dust and interest charges? And for those theaters that are open, is it fair that they don’t have any notable product to play? How does the studio commit to $40 million P&A domestic spends in advance when the U.S.-Canada marketplace may not be open or is unpredictable?
Exhibitors, like AMC, may perceive this model as some sort of manna from heaven. As my mother-in-law says, “There’s no such thing as a coincidence,” and well, what do you know? AMC has 200 million shares up for sale as of today. Buzz hit on Thanksgiving eve that WarnerMedia shoved off a $200 million bid by Netflix for Legendary’s Godzilla vs. Kong so that it could make a play at putting the movie on HBO Max. Warners denied that, saying the pic was committed to theatrical. That was only half true.
Today’s gravity-defying announcement was made by Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group (of which Warner Bros. is part) and Jason Kilar, CEO, WarnerMedia.
There were murmurs at rival studios that WarnerMedia was going to drop a bombshell in December — no one knew it would be this big. Even some of the creators close to the movies, I can tell you, weren’t in the fold on this decision (except those with financial stakes). This is clearly a top-down corporate decision as the the conglom bets aggressively on HBO Max, which hasn’t been an immediate triumph out of the gate. The new streaming service’s hurdle has been distribution, with only