Earlier today, WarnerMedia announced that their entire film slate for 2021 will debut simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max. The news comes a few short weeks after WarnerMedia made it known that the highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 was going to be released in theaters and on HBO Max the same day. WarnerMedia has stated that the outline will not continue into 2022 and is a “unique one year plan.”
Although this is somewhat of a massive blow to theaters and theater owners around the world, WarnerMedia insists that this movie is to help both the theaters and fans that want to see new releases but are unable to do so due to local restrictions. WarnerMedia CEO Ann Sarnoff had this to say in regards to their recent announcement. “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. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”
Earlier in the year, when Warner Bros. took a chance on Tenet, it saw lackluster ticket sales in the U.S. Tenet may have done fairly well overseas, however, HBO Max is only available in the U.S. and the new streaming service hasn’t garnered as many subscribers as WarnerMedia would’ve liked. So, the statement from Sarnoff makes sense, WarnerMedia is trying to bring more attention to HBO Max while also allowing theaters to show Warner Bros’ new releases to help them stay afloat. However, some theater operators may not feel as if WarnerMedia is in their corner as Sarnoff stated.
Adam Aron, CEO of AMC Theaters had this to say in regards to WarnerMedia’s recent announcement. “These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height. However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theater business is expected to recover. Clearly, WarnerMedia intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
Cinemark provided this statement through a company representative. “In light of the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a film-by-film basis. At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films.” Despite Sarnoff’s statement that WarnerMedia is trying to help theater exhibitors and film lovers, it is pretty apparent that exhibitors such as Cinemark and AMC are not happy with WarnerMedia’s decision to release their 2021 film slate in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously.
WarnerMedia’s announcement doesn’t only shake up the movie consumption world, it shook up the stock market as well! After the announcement, Cinemark went from $18.19 a share at 12:50pm to $13.30 a share at 4pm which is a 21.95 percent drop! AMC who recently sold 50 million shares, and earlier this morning announced its plans to sell 200 million more shares in an effort to stay afloat, dropped 16%. IMAX dropped 8%, and National CineMedia dropped 5%. While WarnerMedia’s announcement is fantastic news for people who don’t have access to theaters due to local restrictions, the move couldn’t have come at a worse time for AMC, so Adam Aron’s frustration is understandable.
The future of moviegoing is very uncertain during these odd times, and WarnerMedia, for better or for worse, just added fire to the flame. Now the question remains, will other movie studios follow suit, and more importantly, what will Disney do with their upcoming releases such as Black Widow. We’ve already seen them have success in charging $30 to rent the new live action Mulan, and given WarnerMedia’s recent announcement, it could be potentially devastating to the entire theatrical industry if Disney decides to unveil a plan similar to WarnerMedia’s.
Here is the upcoming Warner Bros upcoming 2021 film slate. The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho and The Matrix 4. What are your thoughts on the recent announcement and statements from WarnerMedia, AMC and Cinemark? Will you be attending Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters or watching in the comfort of your own home? Let us know in the comments below!