Warner Bros. Looking at Delaying Major Motion Picture Releases

If you're still holding out hope the theatrical release schedule has stopped its continuing shuffle, you might not want to hold your breath. A combination of coronavirus-related delays and corporate restructuring at WarnerMedia has thrust the release slate of Warner Brothers Picture into a state of constant flux, as confirmed by AT&T CFO John Stephens on Tuesday. During a virtual call as part of the Oppenheimer Virtual Technology, Internet & Communications Conference (via THR,) Stephens admitted the quarantine has forced the company to research new ways of distributing content.

When asked about the current theatrical slate, which includes tentpoles like Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 in the coming months, Stephens said he isn't "certain where those are going to go," as he suggested further delays in some of the titles was likely.

The past few days alone have resulted in hundreds of employees losing their jobs as new WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar looks to increase efficiency while stripping any redundancies. The layoffs have included a massive portion of the editorial staff of DC Comics. Addressing the layoffs on the call, Stephens revealed the changes were made out of a desire for the company to "get better" rather than a financial necessity to thin the staff.

"These transitions are tough, and there are a lot of good people who have been involved in this," Stephens said. "This is a transformation of making things better, not because we needed to adjust anything, but rather because we are striving to get even better than the HBO Max launch was and to get even better than WarnerMedia has traditionally performed."

Surprisingly enough, Disney is still holding strong on its August 28th release date for The New Mutants as select theaters have started to open across the country. With bigger films like Mulan, the House of Mouse has opted to release it as a premium VOD offering alongside a limited theatrical release — a move that could increasingly become the norm in a post-coronavirus world.

When Kilar was asked last week if Tenet could follow a movie similar to Mulan, he wouldn't offer a definitive answer on the situation.


"I don’t have any comment on that specifically," Kilar told Variety when asked if WarnerMedia was "open to making a similar move." "I think with Tenet we should judge this based on our decision-making on Tenet, which is: We believe in the theatrical business. We’re excited to partner with Chris Nolan to get Tenet out in theaters first and foremost."

Cover photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images