Warner Bros. Pictures Group has announced its entire 2021 film slate will open via a “distribution model in which Warner Bros. will continue to exhibit the films theatrically worldwide, while adding an exclusive one month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent with the film’s domestic release.” The strategy is identical to studio’s upcoming release of “Wonder Woman 1984,” which launches in theaters and on HBO Max for a month on December 25. Following the one-month HBO Max streaming run, all films will continue to play exclusively in theaters “with all customary distribution windows applying to the title.”
Warner Bros. has the following films included on its 2021 slate for now (release dates could change, of course): “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.”
WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement: “We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. 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,” Sarnoff continued. “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.”
An official release from Warner Bros. said this ground-breaking hybrid distribution model “was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic.” The model is only being used for Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate at this time.
“This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021,” Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich said in his own statement. “We have a fantastic, wide ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we’re excited to be able get these movies in front of audiences around the world. And, as always, we’ll support all of our releases with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well.”
All eyes now move to the “Wonder Woman 1984” release to see how successful the distribution model is for WarnerMedia and movie theaters.