The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and ever-evolving impact on the film industry, with studios having to reconsider how they release their blockbusters. Warner Bros. has taken a particularly unique approach to the "new normal", with the decision to release its 2021 slate both in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service. A new article from The Hollywood Reporter dives into the decision and impact of those hybrid releases, while also outlining the studio's plans for 2022 and beyond. As part of the article reveals, Warner Bros. plans to make roughly twelve movies a year for theatrical release, with twelve original movies for HBO Max.
Ann Sarnoff, the current chairman-CEO for Warner Bros. Entertainment, also confirmed that theatrical releases will have a 45 day window before they arrive on HBO Max.
"And, no great surprise, the ones we're putting in theaters are the ones we think we'll work. It's not just about budget size, it's also about genre and the behavioral patterns of people," Sarnoff explained in the report. "I would love to put dramas and comedies on the biggest screen possible; it's just right now they aren't opening. Honestly, they weren't opening pre-COVID either."
It will be interesting to see how this twelve movie plan impacts Warner Bros.' various properties, particularly the DC Universe. DC Films president Walter Hamada had previously indicated plans to create HBO Max spinoffs — either movies or shows — from the majority of its DC film franchises. Previous reporting has also indicated that it could be up to two DC movies a year on Max.
"With every movie that we're looking at now, we are thinking, 'What's the potential Max spinoff?'" Hamada explained.
"HBO Max presents a huge opportunity for DC," Warner Bros. Picture Group Chair Toby Emmerich revealed earlier this year. "It allows us to make high-quality mid-budget superhero movies that reintroduce lesser-known DC titles, while also crossing over stand-out characters from our bigger films into original series. Connecting the DC cinematic universe with Max gives our fans more ways to explore the DC multiverse and more chances to enjoy more great stories with these beloved characters."
What do you think of Warner Bros.' plans for HBO Max movies? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!