Following a year filled with movie delays, hybrid releases, indefinite postponements, and general uncertainty about moviegoing, the fate of movies in 2021 just got a lot more certain — Well, the fate of Warner Bros. movies at least.
In a major announcement today, Warner Bros. Pictures Group revealed that all of its 2021 titles will release (domestically) concurrently on HBO Max and in theaters. Each title will get a one-month access period on the streaming platform — while it is also in theaters — before continuing its theatrical run in the U.S. Then, the films will follow customary distribution windows.
According to the official announcement, this hybrid model is directly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is intended to be a one-time occurrence. However, it will undoubtedly have a major impact on movie theaters as they attempt to reopen and bring back audiences next year.
The expected Warner Bros. slate for next year includes some major releases, many of which were originally scheduled to debut this year. At this time, the list includes 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 Matrix 4.
“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do,” says Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of the WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group. “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.”