In news that could signal a paradigm shift in how we consume studio movies — which, pre-pandemic, were designed to be viewed in cinemas alongside an overpriced carton of popcorn — Warner Bros has announced that its entire slate of 2021 releases will be available on HBO Max for one month next year, concurrent with a longer theatrical release.
This means that highly-anticipated and long-delayed movies like Dune (AKA "Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya go to space"), The Matrix 4, In The Heights and Space Jam: A New Legacy will be available to either stream or view on the big screen, depending on COVID-19 restrictions in your area.
Crucially, Warner Brothers seems to suggest that this will be a 2021-only initiative necessary only because of the extraordinary and very depressing circumstances we find ourselves in. Which will be of... limited comfort to movie theaters.
Said WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff: "We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions... 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 US will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021."
Sarnoff continued: "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."