Sat. Jan 16th, 2021

AP film by JAKE COYLE Author

NEW YORK (AP) – In the most seismic innings by a Hollywood studio yet during an epidemic, Warner Bros. Pictures announced Thursday that its all-2021 film slate – a new “Matrix” film, “Godzilla vs. Kang” and Lin- The Manuel Miranda adaptation will play “In the Heights” – serial theaters on HBO Max at the same time.

In the midst of changes in the plan to prevent the epidemic, none of the studios have streaming so completely as a lifeline. But after disappointing domestic ticket sales for “TenT” and with most US theaters currently closed, AT&T-owned Warner Bros. will turn to a hybrid distribution model next year. Films will debut simultaneously in theaters and in BBO Max. After a month in the US, they will stop streaming and only continue playing in theaters.

The move follows Warner Bros. ‘Decision to put “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max in December, as well as concurrent theatrical runs. If that spindle sent shockwaves through the industry, Thursday’s announcement radically affected Hollywood.

WarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann Sarnoff said in an interview, “Given the unprecedented time we are in, we need a creative solution to address our fans, our filmmakers and our exhibitors. “Big and adventurous is a necessity right now.”

Sarnoff called it a “temporary solution” and a “one-year plan”. The studio said other options – releasing big-budget films in low-capacity theaters or delaying films in another year – were not appealing. Warner Bros. ‘ Recognize that any full rebound to theaters is still a year or more away.

“We got people at some point to bring it back to theaters at full capacity. If you read medical experts who are going to take a little time to do their work through the system, “Saranoff said.” If we looked at the epidemic, we might have a different strategy. But we do not see this. this moment.”

HBO Max is only available in the United States. Internationally, the studio will have 17 films planned for the 2021 release exclusively in theaters.

Warner Bros. ‘ The decision is particularly echoed because the 117-year-old studio of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Casablanca” has long been a market-leader in Hollywood – and is known to be particularly pro-cinematic. The studio has generally been ranked in the top two studios over the past decade – most recently Dwarf Only by Walt Disney. Warner’s films typically generate $ 1.5-2 billion in ticket sales annually in North America – a lot of money to compensate for HBO Max’s customers. Warner Bros. confirmed that the films would be available at no charge to customers.

“I can’t comment on economics how it would work – I would need a crystal ball for this,” Sarnoff said. “But I am very optimistic that this is a win-win for our fans, our filmmakers and our exhibitors. We are taking out films. We are allowing them to see on the big screen what they were made for, But giving an alternative. Hybrid approach also allows us to bring them fully to market, compared to what we’ve seen at least-full-fledged capabilities in theatrics right now. “

Warner Bros. ‘ The 2021 slate includes many of the year’s top films, including “Doon,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Tom and Jerry,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Make Me Do,”, “King Richard” and “Judas and”. Black messiah

The move by Warner Bros. only makes the pain felt by the exhibitors more intense. Closed for most of the year, theaters reopened nationwide in late summer, except in a few major locations, Los Angeles and New York. But with most major releases postponed and an increase in virus cases, about 60% of theaters have closed again. Regal Cinema, the country’s second largest chain, has closed all its doors. Following Warner Bros. announcement, shares of AMC Entertainment fell 16%; Cinemark was down 22%.

AMC disagreed against Warner Bros. ‘Strategy. Adam Aron, chief executive of the world’s biggest chain, said that AMC had gone with the “Wonder Woman 1984” plans because of the virus. But he said that AMC would oppose the same approach in 2021, when a vaccine could accelerate a recovery.

“Clearly, WarnerMedia intends to sacrifice a substantial portion of the profitability of its film studios and its production partners and filmmakers to subsidize HBO Max,” Aaron said in a statement. To ensure that Warner does not do this at our expense. “

Under chief executive Jason Killer, the former Hulu chief, WarnerMedia recently reorganized its streaming service to make it a priority. He has gone on to aggressively promote HBO Max, even if it comes at a dramatic market price. Following the rocky rollout, HBO Max has approximately 29 million subscribers, including those who receive it as HBO customers, but cannot actively use the streaming service. For comparison, Disney + has around 74 million subscribers, although it is available worldwide.

“Our content is extremely valuable, as long as no one is being seen,” Killer said in a statement. “We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”

It is the latest in a series of sweeping changes through an industry driven by the epidemic. The demise of the traditional 90-day theatrical window – which has long been sought by some in Hollywood – and many people think it is good. Universal Pictures struck deals with both AMC Theaters and Cinemark last month and gave them the option to move films to home releases after just 17 days in theaters. Disney has postponed most of its releases, but sent “Hamilton,” “Mulan” and the upcoming Pixar release “Soul” to Disney +.

Follow AP film writer Jake Cuckoo on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

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