Warner Bros. shocked the entertainment world at the end of 2020, as the company announced that every planned theatrical movie in 2021 would be getting a day-and-date release on HBO Max. The Suicide Squad, Dune, and so many other blockbusters would be available for free on a streaming service the same day they hit theaters. There is still some uncertainty surrounding what theaters will look like moving forward, and streaming has become bigger than ever, but Warner Bros. is sticking to its original notion that this strategy is just a one-time thing.
Beginning in 2022, WB will be largely abandoning the HBO Max day-and-date release strategy. There will still be movies made exclusively for HBO Max, but the tentpole films will be released to exclusively to theaters, with no streaming option available for the first 45 days. Films like The Batman will hit theaters when they're released, and fans will have to wait for streaming at a later date.
"And, no great surprise, the ones we're putting in theaters are the ones we think will work. I's not just about budget size, it's also about genre and the behavioral patterns of people," Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Ann Sarnoff told The Hollywood Reporter. "I would love to put dramas and comedies on the biggest screen possible; it's just right now they are opening. Honestly, they weren't opening pre-COVID either."
The day-and-date releases in 2021 have yielded mixed results for WB, with many failing to reach theatrical expectations. The shortcomings are especially noticeable when compared to other major films that were released in theaters exclusively.
On the other side of that coin, the Warner Bros. movies have helped HBO Max in more ways than one. Signups around the release of major tentpoles has shown subscribers are interested in these big movies, and some of the films have had a ripple effect throughout the HBO Max library. The Many Saints of Newark, for example, wasn't a big hit in theaters, but it caused The Sopranos (the series it's based on) to break records for HBO Max decades after going off the air.
Going forward, Warner Bros. will be focused on both theatrical and streaming releases, but there likely won't be a lot of crossover. The studio is planning a dozen theatrical films each year, with at least that many original HBO Max films as well.0comments