Earlier today a shockwave was fealt throughout the entire entertainment industry as WarnerMedia announced that all seventeen of its 2021 feature film releases will debut in theaters and on HBO Max on the same dates. This has caused a ruckus online as film fans share their excitement but also fears that it could negatively effect the exhibition industry. Wall Street has had similar concerns as well with Variety reporting that movie theater chains saw a declines that could be described as "not great" and "drastic." IMAX dropped 8.5%, Marcus Corporation fell 13%, and Cinemark plummeted 21.95%.
AMC Theatres was already having a down day when they announced this morning that they were selling 200 million shares of stock to raise more capital and increase their liquidity. The company's stock dipped upon this news but slightly recovered afterward, then fell again following WB's announcement to the tune of a 17% drop. The trade noted that National Cinemedia, a company that specializes in selling pre-show advertising ahead of feature films playing, saw a 6.8% descent in its stock prices too.
WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement that this plan by the studio was something they were committing to just for the next year, hoping to recoup some of their costs down two paths while also preparing for a bigger than usual release state. She wrote:
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. 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.”
She continued, “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.”
WarnerMedia's plans for theatrical and HBO Max exhibition for their releases will kick off on Christmas Day with Wonder Woman 1984. The plan will then encompass their entire 2021 slate including: The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, In the Heights, The Little Things, Tom & Jerry, Reminiscence, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,Space Jam: A New Legacy, Mortal Kombat, King Richard, Those Who Wish Me Dead, Malignant, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Godzilla vs. Kong
(Cover Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)