Ever since Warner Bros. announced a simultaneous home release (via HBO Max) for Wonder Woman 1984, we’ve been wondering what their next move is. Early whispers suggested a hybrid strategy where WB would use a similar strategy for some movies and keep others theatrical, but….they’re going all in on this.
WB dropped a bomb on the movie industry this morning when they revealed ALL their upcoming films for 2021 will follow WW84’s example. On the day each of their movies open in theaters, they will also be available to stream through HBO Max for approximately one month. That includes The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho and Matrix 4.
It’s a bold experiment, but it’s not the future YET. WB says it only has plans to run their business this way for one year. What it really depends on is if this turns more of a profit for WB than in a normal year when all these films would be released theater-only. If it does, expect all their rivals to copy the strategy and the industry to make a massive shift.
At this time last year, I noticed how movie franchises whose stories had gone on for years — decades in some cases — were all wrapping up at the same time. Toy Story 4, Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker…these were all allegedly the end of cinema’s most popular sagas. And I thought to myself, “It feels like the movies are saying goodbye.”
I didn’t want to be right. Everyone has their own opinion on this. I’m on the “save the theaters” side. If we lose the communal experience of gathering together to watch a big story in a dark room, we’ve lost one of the few remaining things that unites us. Movies will still be made, but they won’t be as huge a deal….so budgets will go down and none of the big spectacles will ever happen anymore (Endgame really was the endgame). Disc releases will suffer too and we won’t get cool stuff like director commentaries anymore. This means a decline for the entire artform.
Plus, what are people going to do on their first dates if theaters disappear? Talk to each other? That’s too awkward! We need the movies or humanity will cease to reproduce!