Warner Bros to make 2021 slate available on HBO Max simultaneously with theatrical release


Warner Bros' hybrid distribution model for 2021 means films like Dune and The Suicide Squad will debut simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max in the US, and after a month, they'll stop streaming and continue to play only in theatres. The Associated Press December 04, 2020 08:59:00 IST

"Avatar." James Cameron was convinced that CGI effects had progressed enough to make this film when he saw Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).

In the most seismic shift by a Hollywood studio yet during the pandemic, Warner Bros Pictures on Thursday announced that all of its 2021 film slate — including a new Matrix movie, Godzilla vs Kong and the Lin-Manuel Miranda adaptation In the Heights — will stream on HBO Max at the same time the films play in theatres. Among the myriad release plan changes wrought by the pandemic, no studio has so fully embraced streaming as a lifeline. But after disappointing domestic ticket sales for Tenet, and with the majority of US theatres currently closed, the AT&T-owned Warner Bros will turn to a hybrid distribution model next year. Films will debut simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max in the US After one month, they will stop streaming and continue to play only in theatres.

"Guardians Of The Galaxy." Chris Pratt apparently stole his Star-Lord costume from the set, for the sole purpose of having it available so he could show up in costume to visit sick children in the hospital, who might want to meet Star-Lord.

The move follows Warner Bros′ decision to put Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max in December, along with a concurrent theatrical run. If that pivot sent shockwaves through the industry, Thursday’s announcement rattled Hollywood to the core. “Given the unprecedented time that we’re in, we needed a creative solution to address our fans, our filmmakers, and our exhibitors, said Ann Sarnoff, chief executive of WarnerMedia Studios, in an interview. “Big and bold is a necessity right now.” Sarnoff called it a “temporary solution” and a “one-year plan.” The studio said other options — releasing big-budget films solely in reduced capacity theatres or delaying films another year — weren’t appealing. Warner Bros′ move amounts to an acknowledgement that any full rebound for theatres is still a year or more away.

"Slumdog Millionaire." Director Danny Boyle placed the money to be paid to the 3 lead child actors in a trust that is to be released to them upon their completion of grade school at 16 years of age. The production company has set up for an auto-rikshaw driver to take the kids to school everyday until they are 16 years old.

“We’ve got to get people back in theatres at full capacity at some point. If you read the medical experts that’s going to take a while to work its way through the system,” said Sarnoff. “If we saw an end in sight to the pandemic, we might have a different strategy. But we don’t see that at this moment.”

HBO Max is only available in the United States. Internationally, the studio’s 17 films planned for 2021 release will roll out exclusively in theatres. Warner Bros' decision resonates especially because the 117-year-old studio of The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca has long been a market-leader in Hollywood — and one known as especially supportive of theatres. The studio has generally ranked among the top two studios in market share over the past decade — most recently dwarfed only by Walt Disney. Warner’s films typically account for $1.5-2 billion annual in ticket sales in North America — a lot of money to compensate for in HBO Max subscribers. Warner Bros. confirmed the films will be available to subscribers with no further charge.

Bruce Lee was so fast, they actually had to run his films slower so you can see his moves.

“I can’t comment on the economics of how it will all work — I’d need a crystal ball for that,” said Sarnoff. “But I’m very optimistic that this is a win-win-win for our fans, our filmmakers and our exhibitors. We’re getting the movies out. We’re allowing them to be seen on the big screen which is what they were made for, but giving an alternative. The hybrid approach also allows us to market them in a fuller way than we would have had we just looked at the less-than-full capacities in theatrical right now.”

Toy Story 2 Was Almost Deleted. A command entered in the “master machine” where the animation for Toy Story 2 was stored deleted 90 percent of the work the Pixar team had done on it. As Mental Floss describes, “A plan was quickly hatched to restore the data from a regular backup, which meant that only half a day of work would have been lost. But the backup system had failed. Pixar, incredibly, did not have a copy of the Toy Story 2 files on its servers.” Fortunately, the film’s technical director had a copy she had been working on from home, and much of it was restored.

Warner Bros′ 2021 slate includes many of the expected top movies of the year, including Dune , The Suicide Squad , Tom & Jerry , The Conjuring: The Devil Make Me Do It, King Richard and Judas and the Black Messiah. The move by Warner Bros only makes the pain being felt by exhibitors all the more acute. Having been shuttered for much of the year, cinemas reopened nationwide in late summer except in some key locations, including Los Angeles and New York. But with most major releases postponed and virus cases surging, about 60 percent of theatres have since closed again. Regal Cinemas, the country’s second largest chain, has shut all its doors. Following Warner Bros.′ announcement, shares of AMC Entertainment fell 16 percent; Cinemark was down 22 percent.

"I Am Legend." Will Smith grew so enamored of his canine co-star, Abbey, that he tried to adopt her when filming was finished, but the dog's trainer could not be persuaded to give her up.

AMC vehemently disagreed with Warner Bros′ strategy. Adam Aron, chief executive of the world’s largest chain, said AMC had gone along with the Wonder Woman 1984 plans because of the virus surge. But he said AMC would oppose the same approach into 2021, when a vaccine could accelerate a recovery. “Clearly WarnerMedia intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize HBO Max,” said Aron in a statement. “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense.”

"The Maze Runner." The production had to hire snake wranglers to make sure the areas where they were filming were snake free. Before filming began the wranglers found 25 venomous snakes. The biggest one they found was a 5 foot rattlesnake.

Under chief executive Jason Kilar, the former Hulu chief, WarnerMedia recently reorganized to further prioritize its streaming service. He has moved aggressively to boost HBO Max, even if it comes at the expense of the theatrical marketplace. After a rocky rollout, HBO Max said in October that nearly 9 million people were using HBO Max, though 29 million had access to the streaming service as part of their HBO subscriptions. For comparison, Disney+ has about 74 million subscribers, though it’s available worldwide.

The Movie "Paranormal Activity" cost less than $15,000 to make but grossed over $193,000,000.

“Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone,” said Kilar in a statement. “We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.” It’s the latest in a series of sea changes sweeping through an industry convulsed by the pandemic. The demise of the traditional 90-day theatrical window — something long sought by some in Hollywood — has accelerated, and many think it’s gone for good. Universal Pictures last month made deals with both AMC Theatres and Cinemark to give them the option of shifting movies into home release after just 17 days in theatres. Disney has postponed most of its releases, but redirected Hamilton, Mulan and the upcoming Pixar release Soul to Disney+.

"Wonder Woman." Gal Gadot was a part of re-shoots for the movie (including stunts) while being five months pregnant. Her baby bump was visible, so the crew created a costume which had a green screen around her belly, which was later removed during post-production.