Goodbye Theatrical Window – Warner Bros. Goes Day and Date on All 17+ Movie Releases in 2021: HBO Max and Theaters Simultaneously

A bonus news post that we can’t wait until tomorrow to share. Maybe you’ve already heard the big news, maybe not, but Warner Bros. is going all in on day and date.

All in.

We already knew Wonder Woman 1984 is having no theatrical window in the United States, it will be released in theaters and on HBO Max (in 4K too!) simultaneously on Christmas, Friday December 25, 2020. International markets will get to see it about 10 days earlier in theaters, if they are open. If being the keyword.

Warner Bros. isn’t stopping with only one film being released this way.

Earlier today they announced plans to include every planned theatrical release film in 2021 with the exact same day and date simultaneous release for the first month. Watch it wherever you want: on HBO Max — no additional premium fee, included as part of the regular subscription — or in whatever theaters might be open. After 31 days, the movies will disappear from HBO Max and go into a theatrical window-like mode. That would involve a period of time where only theaters, then VOD and Blu-Ray and then presumably back on streaming again — probably HBO Max, but maybe other streamers.

The list of the 17 Warner Bros. movies is below.

The studio announced Thursday day-and-date releases for its 17-film slate, which will hit HBO Max for a one-month window that starts the same day they will be available in U.S. theaters. The studio’s 2021 slate includes projects such as The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong and Space Jam: A New Legacy. Other films include Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard and Cry Macho.

Warner Bros. Smashes Box Office Windows, Will Send Entire 2021 Slate to HBO Max and Theaters | Hollywood Reporter

Feedback I’m reading so far are several pundits saying (again, sigh) this will be the death sentence for movie theaters, others liking this for HBO Max and many other opinions.

Clearly, Warner Bros. thinks 2021 is going to be too much like 2020 and they don’t want to keep pushing dates back, hoping, praying that the theaters will be open. They are going to promote the value of an HBO Max subscription. They lose money if they sit on movies, they lose money if they release films to a reduced marketplace .. the only way they seem to gain is by promoting their streaming service. And kudos to them for not going the Mulan route and trying to extract an extra $30 from subscribers.

Worked for us. We just reupped for six months at 20% discount.

The billion dollar question is how many of these movies will people opt to skip the theater and see at home instead? How many will see in both places — on the big screen perhaps first, and then rewatch on HBO Max in 4K.

Nobody knows the answers to those questions. If you read somebody say they do, they’ve got a shovel full of something that doesn’t smell good.

If we have theaters open in our area and have our A-List or Regal Unlimited subscription active, we’ll see the majority, if not every one of these 17 WB films, in movie theaters. However, over six months this last year the movie theaters have been closed in our area. If that’s the case, who knows how many we’ll have the opportunity to see in theaters.

Warner Bros. is saying their plans for 2021 are not permanent, but this could be a toothpaste out of the bottle situation. They would like to go back to adopting some kind of theatrical window, but in the pandemic times, without a vaccine in place (it’s coming!), they are letting people decide when and where to see their movies.

We like letting moviegoers decide where they want to see new movies. Make a customer a customer somewhere in your world is a good idea for any business. If you want to force customers to do something simply because that’s the way it’s always been is not a winning long term business strategy.

Will other studios that have streaming channels should do the same thing? Will this make having an exclusive in theaters for the smaller studios a marketing advantage?

Wow, so much to unpack here. What do you think of all this? Let’s discuss.


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