Warner Brothers or WB, one of the four largest film studios in the world, made waves in December when they announced that in 2021 each of their theatrical films would be available to stream on HBO Max the same day they entered theaters. These films will be available for no additional cost beyond the standard subscription fee for two weeks after release.
“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” veteran director Christopher Nolan said in a Hollywood Reporter interview.
AMC, the largest theater chain in America, also came out with a strong statement, claiming that Warner Brothers was sacrificing the theater industry, as well as the profitability of its films, to kickstart HBO Max, a relatively young streaming service.
Despite all this strife within the film industry, this announcement is great news for the largely movie starved public. Though a few films were trickled out last year, like “Scoob!”, “Trolls World Tour” and “Mulan”, each were locked behind a paywall of $20-30, and there were no blockbuster film releases. Warner Brothers’ announcement that their films will be coming to streaming doubles as a confirmation that they will be coming out, as the other large studios have repeatedly pushed back their film slates waiting for vaccines to be administered and theaters to open.
Vaccine rollout has been slow, and there’s reason to believe everyone will be social distancing and wearing masks for a while longer. Movie theaters have tried to ensure a COVID-safe environment through initiatives like CinemaSafe, a unified set of health and safety guidelines adopted by a coalition of theatre companies, including Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, and Coming Attractions, who all operate in Alaska. Unfortunately, packing a hundred people into a room defies current sensibilities.
Warner Brothers’ decision to release every one of their 2021 films on HBO Max allows for each of their films to be watched safely at home, maintaining social distancing. There are also some pretty big movies on the horizon from WB.
So far, “Wonder Woman 1984”, “The Little Things”, and “Judas and the Black Messiah” have been released on HBO Max alongside the movie theater. The end of February brings the new “Tom and Jerry” film, March brings “Godzilla vs. Kong”, April brings “Mortal Kombat” and things only heat up from there. “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”, will be released in June, followed by a film adaptation of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s other musical: “In the Heights”. “Space Jam: A New Legacy”, James Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad”, “Dune” and “The Matrix 4” will all come out by the end of the year.
There’s a lot of huge movies that will be available for HBO Max’s subscription fee of $15 a month. That’s a price comparable to a single movie ticket, general admission at the Century 16 in midtown Anchorage is $11.75.