After a year in which audiences stayed away from theaters because of the pandemic, Warner Bros. has opted for a bold strategy for 2021: It will release all its movies next year simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. The move comes two weeks after the movie studio announced that its most-anticipated—and oft-delayed—movie of 2020, Wonder Woman 1984, will launch in theaters and on HBO Max on Christmas Day, December 25.
“[This] allows us to do a global release and a national release in what we think is going to be a checkerboarded theatrical market place for the bulk of 2021,” Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich told The Hollywood Reporter. “We think where theaters are open, and consumers can go, that a lot of people will choose to go to the theater, especially for big movies.”
Warner Bros. has some big movies planned for 2021, including Dune, Godzilla vs. King Kong, The Matrix 4, and The Suicide Squad, among many others. And while I’m sure studio executives would prefer to stick to a traditional release schedule in which movies head to theaters first, the firm consulted with epidemiologists and decided that a dual release strategy was best.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff says. “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.”
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