Following the announcement of Wonder Woman 1984 arriving not only in theaters on December 25 but on HBO Max as well, those who predicted that this would be an isolated call to action by the studio are in for a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.
MSN breaks down Warner Bros. further plans for approaching the next year in a similar fashion following the double-debut of Wonder Woman 1984. Unconventionally to other production studios, they will release their entire 2021 film slate both over HBO Max and in movie theaters, allowing those who want to watch any of their anticipated upcoming movies to make the choice of how to enjoy them.
Each movie will appear for streaming on HBO Max on the same respected dates as they are to be shown theatrically. This will include, but not be limited to, James Gunn's The Suicide Squad, Denis Villeneuve's Dune remake, Godzilla vs. Kong, video game adapted Mortal Kombat, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and The Matrix 4.
The plunge to match online streaming accessibility with in-theater debuts stresses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts and italicizes the crisis that movie theaters are experiencing amid the ongoing global health crisis. “We’re living in unprecedented times that call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement. “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.”
Sarnoff refers to the response made by Warner Bros. as a "unique, one-year plan," and studio executives have been insistent that there is no intention to carry over the altered means of simulcasting movies over multiple media into 2022 or beyond. Variety said that Warner Bros. was hesitant about moving forward with limiting what would reach both theaters and HBO Max, and ultimately greenlit the entire 2021 film slate in response to the state of the United States depleting in response to the pandemic.
“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,” said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar. “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.”