AT&T made a whole lot of people happy when their WarnerMedia division announced that all of its movies would be available on HBO MAX the same day that they hit the theater. But that is a 2021-only type of thing.
As Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia, told Recode today, it will return to the old model of releasing movies in the theater exclusively at first. And then bringing them to HBO MAX and other services later on.
In 2021, WarnerMedia announced that all of their big blockbusters would hit HBO MAX on release day for a month, before returning again a bit later. After the theatrical window was over. So HBO MAX subscribers could watch Godzilla vs Kong, Mortal Kombat, The Matrix 4 and other movies at home, in their underwear.
But when The Batman comes out next March, you’ll have to go to a theater to watch it on opening weekend.
Why is WarnerMedia going back to the old way?
WarnerMedia and other studios are ready to get back to the old way of releasing movies. Sure it’s easier to just put them out on their streaming service for everyone to watch, but the revenue doesn’t really come from releasing movies that way. Some of these movies cost nearly a billion to make. So studios need to make that money back. And that’s where the theatrical releases come into play.
Disney and WarnerMedia have said that they would like to shorten the theatrical window, but it won’t be going away completely. It’s likely that we could see movies hit streaming services as soon as a month after they leave theaters. Which would be a huge difference for these movies, as the window is typically around six months.
But, expect to have to return to theaters next year, to see some of WarnerMedia’s biggest movies in 2022.
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