Probably one of the industries to get hit hardest by the pandemic is the box office; not only had productions stopped, but movie theaters were all shut down as well. With Wonder Woman 1984 opening in theaters and releasing on HBO Max on the same day, WB has revealed they will be following the release model for the rest of their movies for 2021.
So that means that films like The Suicide Squad, Godzilla vs. Kong, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Matrix 4, and Dune will be coming out on HBO Max the same day they release in theaters. WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement (via Heroic Hollywood):
"We're living in unprecedented times that call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. 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. 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."
With some countries being able to manage the pandemic better than others, this is the kind of approach that would make sense for areas still in lockdown and areas that can already operate theaters. It may be a drastic change in the industry, but it will have to do, seeing that the pandemic is taking a toll on everyone's lives.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar adds:
"After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia's motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months. More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it's sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all."
As someone who believes in the movie experience, I hope that this model will only stick for 2021, but we should expect some things to change depending on how things go for Wonder Woman 1984.
Catch Wonder Woman 1984 when it debuts in theaters and on HBO Max on December 25.