Are you one of those film fans who was the first in line at the theater for new movies — pre-pandemic? If you’re an HBO Max subscriber, things will be looking up for you in 2021.
In what industry watchers consider a landmark decision for the streaming and film entertainment sectors, WarnerMedia recently unveiled plans for a new hybrid distribution model that will allow select customers to stream movies on the same day they are released in theaters.
HBO Max Subscribers Will Receive Warner Bros. Films on Release Date at No Extra Cost
At least for now, gone are the days of paying $20 per movie ticket or waiting a few months for a movie to be made available outside the confines of the local theater.
All Warner Bros. films scheduled for release at the box office during 2021 will also be available to stream on HBO Max — at no extra charge — for a one-month window that begins on the movie’s release date.
For the cost of $14.99 per month, an HBO Max subscription now will include an exclusive month-long window for access to every new movie produced by Warner Bros. studios through the 2021 calendar year.
WarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann Sarnoff classified the decision as a win-win for moviegoers and streamers alike in the company’s press release:
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” said Sarnoff.
“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. 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.”
Avid moviegoers could potentially save hundreds of dollars as a result of this decision.
And the best part? There are no long-term subscription requirements. You can cancel HBO Max at any time. So theoretically, you could pay for one month to see the film you’re anticipating and then cancel to avoid further charges.
You can learn more about the streaming service, which is the exclusive streaming home to Friends and many HBO originals, by reading Team Clark’s in-depth review.
Films That Will Have a Hybrid Release on HBO Max
The announcement is for 2021, but WarnerMedia is getting a headstart with a Christmas Day release of Wonder Woman 1984 that will be available both in movie theaters and on HBO Max.
The streaming service already has the event prominently featured on its website:
That’s just the beginning, though.
While the WarnerMedia press release does warn that movie release dates are subject to change, there are 17 films named as potential hybrid theater/streaming releases in 2021.
And there are some pretty big titles included.
The much-anticipated sequel to Michael Jordan’s 1996 hit Space Jam will debut in 2021 with LeBron James in the starring role. There also will be a prequel to the smash-hit HBO show The Sopranos titled “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Here’s a look at the complete list of movies that Warner Bros. teased as part of this hybrid release announcement:
- 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
- The Many Saints of Newark
- King Richard
- Cry Macho
- Matrix 4
Chalk this up as yet another way that the coronavirus has impacted our world.
Current HBO Max subscribers are likely to be thrilled by this announcement. It will give them access to 17 new release films without any additional fees beyond their subscriptions.
Those of us who are not yet subscribers will need to make a decision. Is it worth paying $15 per month to avoid buying tickets at the box office during a pandemic? There certainly are some potential health and financial upsides to this.
Thinking beyond the money we all can save in the short term, one has to wonder if this may change the way the public consumes new theatrical releases moving forward. And will this decision force the hand of other major streaming services, such as Disney+, to follow suit with their parent companies’ filmmaking brands?
It will be interesting to see if this causes enough of an uptick in streaming subscriptions for WarnerMedia to consider implementing a similar strategy even after the health concerns at the movie theater are behind us.