Warner Bros. to release entirity of the stuidos 2021 movies simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters

Nick Alutto, Editor-in-Chief

Since March 2020, many movie theaters have remained closed and most major movie releases have pushed their release dates back, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Movie theaters received another hit to their future earnings when Warner Bros. announced their decision to release their entire 2021 movie lineup on HBO Max at the same time that the movies will be released in theaters. A total of 16 movies are a part of this new distribution plan including blockbusters like Godzilla vs. Kong, The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, In the Heights, Dune, and Space Jam 2.

This decision comes after Warner Bros. attempted to release Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in September. Tenet only earned around $58 million at the domestic box office, a disappointing return compared to his last movie, Dunkirk, which made $190 million in the US.

WarnerMedia, the company that owns Warner Bros. and HBO Max, stands in a very profitable position from this deal. On top of not having to delay their movies any longer, they also got a boost in subscribers on their new streaming service. HBO Max launched in May of 2020 and its previous biggest draws in terms of original content included an Elmo talk show, a Seth Rogen movie where he plays a man from the 1800s preserved in pickle juice, and a documentary about a dangerous theme park in the 1980s called Action Park. The addition of 16 movies that were originally supposed to be released in theaters allowed HBO Max to reach its goal of 40 millions subscribers two years ahead of schedule.

On the other hand, movie theater chains are put in an even more perilous situation as a result of this decision. With many theaters being unable to open and many people afraid of going to movie theaters, revenue at movie theaters plummeted in 2020. Movie theater chains that were hoping to have a boost in revenue due to the upcoming vaccine now have to face the reality that a large portion of their potential profits will be in jeopardy for the rest of 2021.

In a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter, AMC theaters responded to this news, stating, “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”

While  Warner Bros. releasing its movies simultaneously on HBO Max may have been good news for the subscription service and for fans who were looking forward to being able to watch new releases once again, the effect that this will have on the already struggling movie theater companies remains to be seen.