Warner Bros. announced Thursday that it will make all of its films released in 2021 available for one month only, exclusively on HBO Max. All movies appear in cinemas at the same time and are available on the streaming service for a limited time.
The new hybrid model is a novel departure from typical program studios, where films are first released in cinemas and then released on other platforms months later.
The price of cinema shares fell on the news. Shares of AMC fell more than 15 percent, while shares of Cinemark fell 14.5 percent.
The move comes when a number of markets continue to close due to the Covid-19 epidemic. In U.S. markets, where theaters reopened, sales and attendance did not match pre-pandemic levels.
After a month-long period on HBO Max, the films will be removed from the platform and shown only in U.S. and international cinemas. Both HBO Max and Warner Bros. are owned by WarnerMedia, which in turn is owned by AT&T.
The first film to be released using this model will be “Wonder Woman 1984” this month. Movies expected to be released this year include “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Tom & Jerry,” “In The Heights,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Reminiscence.” “Malicious”, “Dune” and “Matrix 4”
“We are living in unprecedented times that require creative solutions, including a new initiative from Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” said Ann Sarnoff, president and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group. “No one wants movies to get back on the big screen better than we do. We know that new content is the lifeblood of a theatrical exhibition, but we need to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. in 2021 are likely to operate at reduced capacity. “