As HBO Max prepares for the Christmas debut of Wonder Woman 1984 and its controversial plans for 2021, AT&T CEO John Stankey revealed that the service is seeing “improved traction,” going from 8.6 million activations at the end of September to 12.6 million. Those numbers include cable subscribers enabling the expanded service on their accounts, which many of them have yet to do, as well as AT&T wireless customers who use the app, so it’s difficult to know exactly how that compares with competitors like Netflix or Disney+.
The exec told investors during a conference on Tuesday that using its service to stream, Warner Bros. movies at the same time they premiere in theaters is a “win-win,” which is not at all how director Christopher Nolan would describe it. After referring to HBO Max as “the worst streaming service,” Nolan told the Associated Press that “it’s not a good business decision...It’s all a bit of a mess.”
His movie Tenet did not make its debut on streaming, and will come home via video on-demand next week. That movie’s limited take at the US box office apparently influenced the WB decision on its 2021 film release strategy, as Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff said on CNBC that the movie’s take indicated “the US is not quite ready yet to fully reopen and have full engagement of fans back into theaters hence, this new strategy.” She also said that filmmakers and stars will “get to share in some additional economics from HBO Max” but didn’t specify how that will work.