Warner Bros. will release its entire 2021 film slate to HBO Max and theaters simultaneously, the studio announced Thursday.
“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do,” said Ann Sarnoff, CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
“After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months,” added WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.
The studio’s major scheduled releases next year include science fiction epic “Dune,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights,” the Fred Hampton biopic “Judas and the Black Messiah” and “The Many Saints of Newark,” a prequel to “The Sopranos.”
The move comes after the studio repeatedly postponed one of its biggest tentpole films of 2020, Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” before eventually releasing it in theaters in September.
The film was the first to open after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but has underperformed amid reduced demand and continued shutdowns of some theaters. The studio recently announced it will release one of its other major tentpoles for the year, “Wonder Woman: 1984,” simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming platform, on Christmas.
Disney took similar steps during the pandemic, releasing “Mulan” through its Disney+ streaming platform and announcing it would do the same for the animated film “Soul” on Christmas Day.