Movies & TV / News

Warner Bros. To Release All 2021 Films Day-And-Date in Theaters & On HBO Max

December 3, 2020 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
HBO Max Dune SUicide Squad Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In an unprecedented move due to the pandemic, Warner Bros. will release its full 2021 film slate, including The Suicide Squad & The Matrix 4, on HBO Max simultaneously with theaters. The studio announced the news on Thursday that every film it will release in theaters in 2021 will stream on HBO Max for 31 days day-and-date with their theatrical release date.

The strategy, which the studio stressed is a temporary model, comes as Wonder Woman 1984 prepares to hit HBO Max on December 25th, the same day it arrives in theaters. The decision comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has been getting worse in the US and with an increasingly crowded film slate for 2021 due to the amount of movies that studios had to push out of 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, 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. With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”

The move completely upends the traditional theatrical and streaming release model. Theater chains have traditionally pushed very hard against shortening windows and though they supported Wonder Woman 1984’s day-and-date release as a one-time move, this is something very different. Cinemark issued a statement to Deadline about Warner Bros.’ decision which was guarded in tone, reading, “In light of the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a film-by-film basis. At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films.”

The list of films Warner Bros. will release in 2021 currently stand at 17, as follows:

* 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
* The Matrix 4

“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,” Jason Kilar, CEO of WarnerMedia, said in a statement. “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.”

All of the films will still receive theatrical releases worldwide, and will be on HBO Max for one month before continuing its theatrical release in the standard distribution method for each title after that.

“This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021,” Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement. “We have a fantastic, wide ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we’re excited to be able get these movies in front of audiences around the world. And, as always, we’ll support all of our releases with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well.”