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Warner Bros. Pictures Group Announces Innovative, Hybrid Distribution Model For Its 2021 Theatrical Slate


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Today, the Warner Bros. Pictures Group announced that it has committed to releasing its 2021 film slate via a unique, consumer-focused distribution model in which Warner Bros. will continue to exhibit the films theatrically worldwide, while adding an exclusive one month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent with the film’s domestic release. The hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic, particularly in the U.S. Following the one month HBO Max access period domestically, each film will leave the platform and continue theatrically in the U.S. and international territories, with all customary distribution windows applying to the title. All films will be available in 4K Ultra HD and HDR on HBO Max. This announcement was made today by Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group (of which Warner Bros. is part) and Jason Kilar, CEO, WarnerMedia.

Warner Bros. Pictures Group’s 2021 expected* release slate currently includes 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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“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. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”

“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,” said Kilar. “More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”

“This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We have a fantastic, wide ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we’re excited to be able get these movies in front of audiences around the world. And, as always, we’ll support all of our releases with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well.”

 

 

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This is huge.  On the one hand, I'm pleased that I don't have to go to a theater to see things like The Suicide Squad, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Dune.  On the other hand, I'm concerned that if Dune is good, it may not make enough money without the audience a larger theatrical release could bring, and Part 2 may not be greenlit.  Moreover, I read that movie theater stock took a huge dive after this news, and I'm very concerned (more than before) the industry may never recover.

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3 hours ago, Satam said:

This is huge.  On the one hand, I'm pleased that I don't have to go to a theater to see things like The Suicide Squad, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Dune.  On the other hand, I'm concerned that if Dune is good, it may not make enough money without the audience a larger theatrical release could bring, and Part 2 may not be greenlit.  Moreover, I read that movie theater stock took a huge dive after this news, and I'm very concerned (more than before) the industry may never recover.

So, LONG response here.  TL;DR: supply and demand.  The industry will survive and recover just fine, because it exists in the first place.  Meaning, the whole reason it came into being is because people wanted it.  And they'll keep wanting it after COVID, so it will bounce back, no problem.

Now . . . long version.

Here's the thing about the movie industry:
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Most of our economy is made up of non-existent money.  It's powered ENTIRELY by confidence.  Yeah, it has real world consequences, people lose jobs, businesses shut down, it hurts people.  But actual industries?  They exist because people want them to, and the reality is that, once there is a market available, things will reappear again, if there is call for it.  The money will come back.  Investors will invest again.
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And contrary to what investors want you to believe, the movie industry ESPECIALLY isn't powered by real money.  They make a big deal about box office returns, but the truth is, investors pay for movies to get made, NOT box office returns.  Box office returns merely convince investors to invest again.  Box office returns inspire confidence.  And as I just noted, confidence is what ACTUALLY creates money in our economy.  At the Wall Street/Hollywood level, anyway.
<P>
So yeah, theaters will close, studios will close, workers will get laid off, a ton of people will suffer, and that royally sucks.  Capitalism is NOT a good thing for average workers.  BUT, the most likely scenario is that when this plague finally clears up, no matter how many people and individual companies and players were ruined . . . the industry itself?  It'll bounce back.  Because there will be people (primarily the disgustingly wealthy 0.1%) who WANT theaters and movies and restaurants and luxury services to be a thing, 'cuz they want to be pampered and catered to and served, and more importantly (to them), they want to make money off of their average joe workers who go out and get pampered and catered to and served.  They'll spend the money to make more money.  Those businesses will reopen if there is demand.  The industry will be fine.  It might be slightly different, but it'll be fine.
<P>
Theaters may be fewer, but there will still be enough demand for some to exist (but more at-home, on-demand movies was a trend already, we were moving that way BEFORE COVID, just that no one was forces to figure out a way to make it financially viable . . . now they have to).  Movies will DEFINITELY keep being a thing, even if we might see some really anemic years in terms of quantity and quality, and the number of competing small studios will decrease.  But your Big Six will survive JUST FINE.  And though it's true some investors may not want to back THESE particular projects, because they didn't make money, any half-decent accountant will tell them this year's numbers should be ignored, they can't base success of a property on the return, they'll pay more attention to critical reaction and streaming numbers, so make sure you WATCH THE THINGS YOU WANT, those numbers will MATTER.
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The only way the industry itself doesn't recover is if the economy completely collapses and there's no one with any money left to pay for the things people will be demanding.  It collapses if the 0.1% decide to take the money and run, or they decide to just horde it all and not reinvest it.  Which . . . is unfortunately a very real possibility ('cuz like I said, this system isn't a GOOD thing, it's just how it is right now).  But so long as enough of them are smart enough to realize their money is imaginary and entirely dependent on the other 99.9% surviving and continuing to support them . . . hopefully they'll keep us from that level of collapse.
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And so those industries will recover, eventually.  You know, so long as they don't keep trying to FORCE it to all recover RIGHT NOW.  'Cuz that will ALSO kill lots of the 99.9% and trigger a collapse, and again, they seem to be too dumb to realize they DEPEND on us to keep making them money, and we can't do that if we're not, you know, ALIVE.  But again, hopefully they'll figure that out before things are too far gone.
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If they don't, they're gonna learn real fast how much of their money really is imaginary.  French Revolution-style.  And in THAT case . . . we're gonna have a lot more to worry about than whether or not the movie industry will recover. *LOL*

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