The year 2020 has all but destroyed the status quo for movie studios looking to release their next big blockbuster film. Thanks largely to the COVID pandemic still sweeping through the nation, depending on the normally reliable box office audience is no longer pliable. This has lead to several movie studios and content providers searching for a new, dependable method to get their films out in front of audiences in a safe, yet still profitable manner. Warner Bros. is taking a massive leap of faith, by announcing all of their 2021 movies will debut on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters.
The first movie that will be part of this experiment is the highly anticipated ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ on Christmas day. The Movie will drop on HBO Max free to subscribers and will stay there for one month. After that, the film will continue to run in theaters until a general release date is determined in the future. Warner Bros. tried to release a big-budget movie earlier this year with Tenet, but it flopped. Hard. There is a strategy at play here, and there is a tremendous amount of risk and reward. Should WarnerMedia and AT&T succeed with this strategy, they will be pioneers in a new age of media delivery, making their services and content highly sought after in the process. If they fail, billions of dollars and high stakes projects go up in smoke.
Some of these projects include a new Mortal Kombat movie, the Dune remake, a new installment of The Conjuring, and the insanely coveted Matrix 4. Any one of these films could crack the billion-dollar mark in theaters, and their importance cannot be understated. The goal should be to spread these releases out enough to not only keep existing subscribers happy but to also continually attract new subscribers. In total, WarnerMedia has roughly 18 projects in the pipeline slated to debut in 2021 which is enough for them to run one major release every month. That will cover a full year’s worth of content and should buy WarnerMedia enough time to develop a more thorough content strategy going forward.
Warner Bros. CEO shared “We’re living in unprecedented times which 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.”
Only time will tell if we’ll ever be able to fully enjoy a truly cinematic experience in theaters ever again. One thing is for certain, studios will continue to find ways to deliver content to whatever screen we happen to be using.