Twitter users are pointing out that HBO "lives up to its name" as the "Home Box Office" after Warner Bros. shifted its 2021 movies slate to day-and-date releases on HBO Max, putting its biggest titles on the streaming service the same day they open in theaters at no extra cost to subscribers. Under this one-year hybrid exhibition model starting with Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day, Warner Bros. will debut 17 of its movies — including Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Matrix 4, and The Suicide Squad — in theaters and the HBO Max streaming service simultaneously as part of an exclusive one-month access period for subscribers.
Thursday's announcement sparked excitement from subscribers as much as it drew ire from film fans concerned this blow to movie theaters might mean the end of an industry already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group," WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff 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."
Calling the move a "win-win for film lovers and exhibitors," Sarnoff added the one-year plan allows WarnerMedia to "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."
The move saw sharp criticism from AMC Theatres boss Adam Aron, who accused WarnerMedia of "[sacrificing] a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max startup."
But online commentators are pointing out that HBO Max is "living up to its name" by allowing subscribers to bring the box office and the latest movie releases into their homes:
“So that’s it? What, we some kind of Home Box Office?” pic.twitter.com/IP6DU6SO5P— CountChucho (@countchucho) December 3, 2020
HBO looking at Covid closing down theaters pic.twitter.com/4HiUwb540V— Woof Blitzer (@I_Exude_Sarcasm) December 3, 2020
HBO really living up to their name as "Home Box Office" 🍿🍾— LogaN7 (@LPEbert) December 3, 2020
We should’ve seen this coming. HBO literally stands for Home Box Office. pic.twitter.com/gJWsPQnaHw— Braddington (@bradwhipple) December 3, 2020
You have to admire Home Box Office for playing the long game to earn the right to that name.— Matt Wagner (@othermattwagner) December 3, 2020
HBO stands for HOME BOX OFFICE pic.twitter.com/wF0TTZCBfo— President-Elect Sammy Kay (@thatSammyKay) December 3, 2020
They are literally living up to their name “home box office” — box office movies at home, without adding a single penny. https://t.co/CciZtAs2vX— Nazir (@ahmdnazrafq) December 4, 2020
HBO literally stands for Home Box Office. And what’s crazier is that this will essentially be AMC’s subscription service.— RewMec (@AreTudaEDub) December 4, 2020
~HOME~ Box Office baby— John (@WhatJohnSed) December 3, 2020
me every time i remember hbo stands for home box office pic.twitter.com/SDDm8hVee5— rachel (not famous) (@rachel_ruecker) December 3, 2020
HBO is literally is an acronym for— Batman (@Batmancanceeu) December 3, 2020
HOME BOX OFFICE pic.twitter.com/OQjDIO6vSl
The Home Box Office is really going to live up to its name now https://t.co/HNLdWN39QS— Justingle Bells Monisit 🧢 (@JustinJMonisit) December 3, 2020
The future is now Home Box Office pic.twitter.com/La5Z5bJvTh— Famewreck (@famewreck) December 3, 2020
literally home box office pic.twitter.com/R0BtisZXMz— scott (@scottfernandez) December 3, 2020