The future is here. Warner Bros. changed the movie industry, likely forever, when it announced this week that its entire film slate for the next 12 months will follow Wonder Woman 1984 to HBO Max. More than just a shot in the arm for the new streaming service, this obliterates the theatrical window as we know it, with every one of WB’s next 18 films opening concurrently on streaming and in theaters.
This day and date “hybrid” strategy, which mixes online with theatrical distribution, has been described by WarnerMedia as a “unique one-year plan,” although many are dubious, likely including theater owners.
AMC Theatres fired off a public statement that said, “Clearly Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
Yet the die is cast, and WB’s stack 2021 line-up is headed to HBO Max for limited one month engagements following their release dates. This includes the next entry in the DC Extended Universe (or whatever it’s called these days), James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. The film allows the writer-director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies to try and offer a similar glib sense of humor in a pseudo-sequel/reboot of 2016’s successful (but largely maligned) Suicide Squad. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn, as is Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, but the film also brings in a stacked ensemble of newcomers, including Idris Elba, John Cena, Pete Davidson, Sylvester Stallone, and more.
One also wonders if the movie is primarily seen on HBO Max whether that incentivizes the studio to continue pursuing an R-rating for the picture after Birds of Prey’s lukewarm box office?
Other unusually large spectacles coming straight to your living room include Godzilla vs. Kong, the fourth (and maybe final?) film in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse. The picture pits the title character of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters against the supersized King Kong of Kong: Skull Island. Other blockbusters include Denis Villeneuve’s ambitious and cerebral attempt to adapt Frank Hubert’s epic science fiction novel, Dune, after the same text thwarted David Lynch.
Elsewhere among the releases is a full-on Hollywood musical adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Tony winning Broadway smash. Before Hamilton, there was In the Heights, which will finally be bringing lights up on Washington Heights after getting delayed from its original June 2020 release date due to COVID-19. Meanwhile horror hounds will finally get the long-anticipated third official chapter in The Conjuring franchise, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. All that and many more films of varied interest are coming to HBO Max. The full list and their release dates can be found below.
HBO Max Release Schedule for Warner Bros. Movies
Mortal Kombat – Jan. 15
The Little Things – Jan. 29
Tom and Jerry – March 5
The Many Saints of Newark – March 12
Reminisce – April 16
Godzilla vs. Kong – May 21
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – June 4
In the Heights – June 18
Space Jam: A New Legacy – July 16
The Suicide Squad – Aug. 6
Dune – Oct. 1
King Richard – Nov. 19
The Matrix 4 – Dec. 22
Judas and the Black Messiah – TBA
Those Who Wish Me Dead – TBA
Malignant – TBA
Cry Macho – TBA