In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros. announced Thursday that all 17 films on its 2021 slate will launch on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters — a model that was previously announced for the release of “Wonder Woman 1984.” In a statement, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar doubled down on the fact that this was a necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “We see an opportunity to do something firmly focused on the fans, which is to provide choice. Whether that choice is to enjoy a great new movie out at the cinema, to open up HBO Max, or to do both.”
Naturally, the news was met with a flurry of reactions ranging from shock to anger. Some, like Vulture critic Jen Chaney, worried about the impact the news could have on theaters. She tweeted, “I have been extremely reluctant to make any nail in the coffin pronouncements about the future of movie theaters. But this Warner/HBO Max announcement feels pretty … nail in the coffin-ish?”
But there are still plenty of people who are excited about the opportunity to stream blockbusters from home. SlashFilm staff writer Ethan Anderton said, “Personally, I think this Warner Bros/HBO Max release strategy is both a way to boost the streaming service and to test the waters for what movies they should give hybrid releases to in the future and which should be in theaters first like the traditional model.”
Read more reactions to the Warner Bros. news below.
This is truly mind-boggling. A huge game changer. HBO Max needed a big ticket draw and this is fucking it. Will other streamers follow suit? Will Warner Bros. extend this method beyond 2021? pic.twitter.com/xJ90kZdTFJ
— Anna Klassen (@AnnaJKlassen) December 3, 2020
This is a big deal. Warner Bros. insists it's temporary, in response to the pandemic.
But at this point, is there anyone who believes we're ever going back to the old way?
— Ryan Faughnder (@RFaughnder) December 3, 2020
Love this and this is what they should've done, as with the other studios, while this pandemic has been going on!!! ? They got a backlog of movies now and need to get them out. Also it'll still go to DVD/VOD after the theater run like normal. https://t.co/tWAplB09pn
— Amanda Hogan (@buffyfan145) December 3, 2020
People are going to watch In the Heights, Dune, and The Matrix 4 on HBO Max instead of in theaters. While this seems harsh and kind of inevitable, I'm still just in shock. This is me right now. (Minus the muscles.) pic.twitter.com/Fd2f108GV9
— Brian Tallerico (@Brian_Tallerico) December 3, 2020
Welp so much for not subscribing to this streaming service. I can stay home and still watch brand new content on the big screen? That's a win. https://t.co/EtULxnXlO7
— Il parle très bien ⭐️⭐️?? (@gooner424) December 3, 2020
I did not think HBO Max could attract users. Mind officially changed. This is the only way they could compete for mindshare against Disney, Netflix and Prime. They have rightfully realized that they are being handed an opportunity to own their value. Movie theaters are fucked. https://t.co/AxoCBg4WAp
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) December 3, 2020
my take on the HBO Max thing is that while it is still not safe to go to a movie theatre I am very happy to watch great content from my couch but the second it IS safe to go to a movie theatre I will be there with my popcorn and Diet Coke and I will literally. watch. anything.
— Claire Willett (@clairewillett) December 3, 2020
I hate this. https://t.co/XkhzrxuWB4
— Stephen Ford (@StephenSeanFord) December 3, 2020