The vaccine may be coming, but Hollywood is continuing to make drastic changes to the way it does business in the wake of the pandemic. In a bombshell announcement today, Warner Bros Studios confirmed that they will apply the same day-and-date release plan that they had previously announced for their upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 to the studio’s entire slate of 2021 films. This means that, while all of their films will still be released in theaters for a full theatrical run, each film will also premiere on the studio’s streaming platform, HBO Max, on the same day, and be available to stream for all HBO Max subscribers for a full month.
Some of the titles included in the new distribution model are The Suicide Squad, Dune, The Matrix 4, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Mortal Kombat, all movies that would have expected to have had huge results at the box office for the studio. But the whole concept of box office may no longer have much meaning in the wake of this announcement, especially if other studios follow Warner’s lead. They’re even doing the same thing with a potential awards player in Judas and the Black Messiah, as well.
This announcement, while not a total surprise, does come as the first significant and sweeping change to an entire roster of films, and could be the first indication that the movie-going experience may be forever changed. It will continue to put in doubt the long-term effects of the pandemic on the theater business, which has already been hard hit. While the company insists this change to their distribution formula is a pandemic-only plan, many are unsure that studios will be able to put the genie back into the bottle. With the popularity and availability of streaming services continuing to rise, going out to see a movie in a crowded movie theater might have finally become a thing of the past.
See more details on the announcement and its effects at the Hollywood Reporter here and stay tuned for more.