LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – In an unprecedented move that could mark a turning point for the movie theater industry, Warner Bros. announced Thursday that it will release its entire 2021 film slate on its streaming service HBO Max.
The company reported that at least 17 films, including "Matrix 4," "Dune" and "Space Jam: A New Legacy," would be released concurrently in theaters and on HBO Max for one month.
After a month, the films will then get pulled from HBO Max, but remain in theaters.
Unlike "Mulan" -- which Disney+ charged its subscribers $30 to watch after unsuccessfully waiting for a theater release -- or "Trolls: World Tour" -- which Universal Pictures released to VoD -- there will be no extra charge for HBO Max subscribers to watch these new films.
Warner Bros. indicated the model will only be temporary, with the traditional release rollout returning in 2022 when the coronavirus pandemic threat has hopefully subsided.
"No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do," said Ann Sarnoff, CEO of WarnerMedia Studios said in a statement. "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. 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."
Last month, Warner Bros. announced that "Wonder Woman 1984" would follow this model, coming out both in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 24.
The Warner Bros. films currently slated for release next year are: "The Little Things," "Judas and the Black Messiah," "Tom & Jerry," "Godzilla vs. Kong," "Mortal Kombat," "Those Who Wish Me Dead," "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It," "In The Heights," "Space Jam: A New Legacy," "The Suicide Squad," "Reminiscence," "Malignant," "Dune," "The Many Saints of Newark," "King Richard," "Cry Macho" and "Matrix 4."
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