HBO stands for Home Box Office – and they’re taking that acronym to heart with their latest unprecedented announcement. Warner Bros. revealed today that their entire slate of movies for 2021 will stream on HBO Max in the U.S. on the same day they debut in theatres.
The studio’s slate of 17 movies – including heavy hitters like Dune, the new Matrix movie, Suicide Squad 2, Godzilla vs. Kong, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and the Lin-Manuel Miranda adaptation In the Heights – will debut on the streaming service and in theatres simultaneously. The films will stream on HBO Max for 31 days.
The landmark announcement marks an industry-shaking shift in Hollywood, which has been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic. Warner Bros. is pursuing this unprecedented hybrid distribution model following the closure of the majority of theatres across the U.S. and Tenet’s disappointing domestic box office returns this summer.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” said WarnerMedia Studios Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff in a statement. “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. With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films.”
The news isn’t so ground-breaking for Canadian audiences, however. While Crave has acquired streaming rights to a large amount of HBO content, it looks like these films will follow Wonder Woman 1984’s planned release and only come to Crave after its "standard theatrical windows." Warner Bros. Canada confirmed the cinema-first release plan in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
BREAKING: @CraveCanada confirms what Canadian moviegoers have been dreading since Warner Bros/HBO Max news broke this afternoon. No, we're not going to be able to stream DUNE, MATRIX 4, SUICIDE SQUAD 2, THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK etc. the same day as Americans with HBO Max access. pic.twitter.com/DjikQ1HznY
— Barry Hertz (@HertzBarry) December 3, 2020
I got you something ✨nice✨ this year:
🎁 The biggest movie premieres
🎁 In theaters and on HBO Max the exact same day
🎁 Beginning December 25 with #WonderWoman1984#HBOMax #WBPictureshttps://t.co/QA8MlErRYQ pic.twitter.com/VuYkTa6BGx
— Warner Bros. Pictures (@wbpictures) December 3, 2020