The second half of 2020 was inundated with news of big theatrical releases on streaming platforms, like Disney’s Mulan on Disney +. But Warner Bros. is surpassing everyone, including himself: Every movie he has planned for 2021 will be released on HBO Max the same day it hits theaters, at no additional cost. This is an unprecedented move for a major Hollywood studio.
Essentially, WB treats HBO Max like its own private theater, which is right in your living room. First-run films will be available on the streaming service for one month concurrent with their initial theatrical release, after which they will be gone for the regular home release period. Like the similar Wonder Woman 1984 Christmas Release, HBO Max subscribers will not have to pay any additional fees to access these new movies.
I got you something “nice” this year:
🎁 The greatest movie premieres
🎁 In theaters and on HBO Max the same day
🎁 From December 25 with # WonderWoman1984#HBOMax #WBPictures https://t.co/BZgFFRrrg2 pic.twitter.com/J2KBdWd9Tf
– HBO Max (@hbomax) December 3, 2020
The list of big budget movies coming out the same day HBO Max and theaters is staggering. These are some of the biggest releases on the calendar. Here are some highlights of the WB’s planned release schedule for 2021:
The small things
Judas and the Black Messiah
Tom and Jerry
Godzilla vs. Kong
Those who wish me death
The conspiracy: the devil made me do
In the heights
Space Jam: a new legacy
The suicide squad
The Many Saints of Newark
It looks like someone at Warner Bros. determined that another year of COVID-depressed theater sales (or hopefully less, if vaccine delivery is fast enough) was somewhat of a washout, and an opportunity to give the platform to The company’s streaming a big boost compared to its competition. And that’s a big boost: Disney + is the only similar platform that could possibly match that move, with direct links to another catalog of Hollywood mega-movies.
The press release is very specific about this decision for 2021, so it appears to be a limited test, and it might not continue beyond next year. But it’s a strange moment for film distribution: if this turns out to be a big win for Warner Bros., it could change the relationship between theaters and streaming movies forever.
Source: Warner Bros. press release.