The movie landscape has changed significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing movie studios to take unique approaches to their blockbuster releases. Warner Bros. took a unique approach to this uncharted territory, electing to debut all of its 2021 movie slate both in theaters and on HBO Max for the first month of their release. The deal has been the source of a lot of speculation ever since, along with chatter that indicated that some cast and crew members were unaware of the deal before it was publicly announced. While speaking at Vox Media's Code Conference (via The Hollywood Reporter), WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar acknowledged the way the decision came together, and revealed that "in hindsight", he would have taken the time to speak to the creators involved.
"I will be the first one to say, and the responsibility rests on my shoulders, that, in hindsight, we should have taken the better part of a month to have over 170 conversations - which is the number of participants that are in our 2021 film slate," Kilar explained. "We tried to do that in a compressed period of time, less than a week, because of course there was going to be leaks there was going to be everybody opining on whether we should do this or not do this."
The HBO Max deal led to films such as Mortal Kombat, Godzilla vs. Kong, and The Suicide Squad being available on the streamer for a limited time, a fate that is expected to also happen for the forthcoming Dune and The Matrix Resurrections. With the studio expected to return to exclusive theatrical releases in 2022, Kilar previously indicated that he still has hope for the theatrical experience.
"I absolutely believe in the theatrical marketplace. I say that with conviction because I know fans care about it. I know I count myself as one of the more ardent fans of the theatrical experience," Kilar explained in December of last year. "I believe 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now, there is going to be a robust theatrical marketplace, and I say that because there are very few things that can compete on a Friday night when you're going out with someone that you love, to a cinema, and being told a great story on a gigantic screen, in a communal setting and in an environment that is new and interesting to you. And I just think that's going to persist for decades and beyond that."
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