The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world of cinema on its ear with active productions being curtailed, upcoming projects getting cancelled, and theaters being abandoned. On Thursday, Warner Bros. announced a radical and drastic adaption to our new socially-distanced reality. The company announced that every single film it has lined up for release in 2021 will be made available through 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.”
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a Thursday statement. “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.”
This move follows the same strategy that the studio has employed with the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 release scheduled for December 25th. Currently Warner Bros. is only applying this decision to movies coming out next year but depending on how the COVID pandemic continues to progress, could potentially be extended.
“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.” At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films.
The following films are slated for release in 2021, though their specific release dates are still subject to change:
The Little Things
Judas and the Black Messiah
Tom & Jerry
Godzilla vs. Kong
Those Who Wish Me Dead
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
In The Heights
Space Jam: A New Legacy
The Suicide Squad
The Many Saints of Newark