HBO Max Film Releases
It was announced yesterday that Warner Bros will air ALL of their 2021 films simultaneously on HBO Max and on theatres. I covered this yesterday in regards to Dune specifically. In this article, I will list all of the upcoming films which are falling into this bold strategy. I will then briefly reiterate the rationale behind the decision which I explained in detail previously as well as the reactions, followed by insider information with a strong speculation in relation to Disney’s probable response.
As of the writing of this article, the timetable is as follows:
- Mortal Kombat — Jan 15
- The Little Things — Jan 29
- Tom and Jerry — Mar 5
- The Many Saints of Newark — Mar 12
- Reminiscence — Apr 16
- Godzilla vs. Kong — May 21
- The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It — Jun 4
- In the Heights — Jun 18
- Space Jam: A New Legacy — Jul 16
- The Suicide Squad — Aug 6
- Dune — Oct 1
- Elvis — Nov 5
- King Richard — Nov 19
- Matrix 4 — Dec 22
- Judas and the Black Messiah — TBA
- Malignant — TBA
- Those Who Wish Me Dead — TBA
Update (08/12/2020 12:42 GMT) — The source article has removed the release schedule. Expect a reshuffled timetable.
Update (10/12/2020, 02:57 GMT) — I got the wrong hyperlink in the above post. This was my source article. So far, only Mortal Kombat has been altered. Expect further reshuffles later.
Firstly, the pandemic has significantly reduced the revenue of the theatres around the world. It is not currently viable to send films to the big screen in the current period. Secondly, Warner Bros wants to invest in HBO Max in an effort to increase the number of subscribers. Netflix and Disney Plus both make significant amount of revenues through their service. The Disney streaming service alone might potentially be responsible for A SIGNIFICANT PERCENTAGE of ALL of Disney’s future profit! This includes the movies, theme parks, licensing, television and merchandise. Basically, everything.
The hypothetical percentage was calculated with the Disney Plus projection of generating $7 billion in 2023 against a total Disney profit of $14 billion in 2019. This was the same year where Disney was responsible for 7 of the 9 billion-dollar crossing films.
And of course, HBO wants a piece of the action. Warner Bros said this strategy is only for 2021. However, if it proves to be a success and it generates a significant amount of revenue from their streaming service, they will more than likely continue with this strategy.
This is the future of movies.
The various cinemas chains, including AMC, Cinemark and Regal, all had predictable reactions. They stand to lose the most from this deal. Their official reactions were as follows:
AMC were more harsh in their response:
These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height. However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover. — AMC Boss Adam Aron
Whilst vaccinations for the pandemic are imminent, analysts have predicted that the effects of the vaccine will not be felt until the summer of 2021. Even then, it is also predicted that theatres will not reach to their pre-COVID levels of revenue anytime soon in the post-pandemic world. This statement made by the AMC boss is purely of optimism.
“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business. — AMC Boss Adam Aron
This above statement is slightly misleading. If Warner Bros is successful in their simultaneous experiment, then their streaming service will generate far more money than theatres ever could by a significant margin. In theatres, the revenue is typically shared with exhibitors. In a streaming service, 100% of the revenue would belong to the studio. There is no middle man. They would not be sacrificing its profitability and it might be very good for Warner Bros in the long-term.
Cinemark is currently assessing their situation:
In light of the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a film-by-film basis. At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films — Cinemark
Cinemark has not provided an official position in regards to their position on Warner Bros. This means they will likely play Warner Bros movies in their cinemas as they don’t have much of a choice in the pandemic world. They are keeping their options open.
The statement by Cineworld, owners of Regal, is similar to AMCs. However, their position was still more or less neutral, similar to Cinemark:
Cineworld was aware of WB’s plan to release Wonder Woman directly to its streaming service, which has been announced at a time when our cinemas remain closed in the US (Regal) and UK (Cineworld). We are very encouraged by the giant steps achieved recently with regards to the COVID-19 vaccination process, which is expected to be put in place earlier than previously anticipated. This will generate significant relief for our industry and enable our cinemas to make a great comeback. We believe that at such a time WB will look to reach an agreement about the proper window and terms that will work for both sides. Big movies are made for the big screen and we cannot wait to reopen our cinemas in Q1 in order to offer our customers, as always, the best place to watch a movie. — Cineworld
They are optimistic that the vaccinations will eventually lead to a resurgence the movie theatre audience, something which is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Don’t Forget Tenet
This cinema chains appear to have forgotten that Warner Bros was at the forefront of the cinematic experience. They gambled with Tenet in an effort is revive the industry, but were unsuccessful. Tenet did indeed generate a worldwide box office of $357,800,000. Whilst this is a significant revenue, it was not enough to make up for the estimated $200,000,000 budget plus marketing. The American domestic box office was only $57,400,000. In a non-pandemic world, that figure would have been way higher.
Warner Bros attempted to appease the cinemas. Tenet did not generate the revenue they wanted. Whilst movies might perform better internationally, it’s a whole different story in America itself. So, logically, they are trying this new simultaneous tactic.
I speculate it will be a success and allow HBO Max to become a major contender on the streaming wars for the first time.
I was actually aware for a few days prior to the official announcement that Dune will more than likely air simultaneously. This is thanks to one of the employees over at Midnight’s Edge, who consistently produces accurate scoops in the entertainment medium. They had inside knowledge of what was going to happen.
He also revealed something else at the aftermath of the official Warner Bros announcement: Disney is having an emergency meeting in Pinewood (U.K) in response to this. The speculation is here for all: They will react and will probably also pull a similar strategy in 2021.
Disney’s investor day will be in 5 days on the 10th December 2020. They will more than likely make their official announcement on this particular event. Over here, they will also likely announce an 18+ section on Disney Plus where they post some of their Fox content and also invest in Deadpool.
Disney achieved an incredible feat of generating 7 billion dollar films just last year (2019), with Warner Bros also producing Joker and Sony distributing Spiderman: Far From Home. It was perhaps the greatest year for the cinema. However, the projected profit from Disney Plus in 2023 will far surpass the cinematic revenue. The success of Netflix and Disney Plus were the instigator for Warner Bro’s 2021 streaming strategy. They will more than likely be successful in this endeavor.
This is essentially the beginning of the end for cinemas. When the pandemic started, there were already talks of cinemas reaching bankruptcy. This release strategy, followed by the subsequent response from rival studios, will lead to the end of the cinematic experience.
Cinemas will still be around, but nowhere near to the same capacity as right now. Streaming is the future and will become the norm.
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