The move, which pertains to the US, has been made in response to the coronavirus pandemic’s severe impact on the stability of the traditional theatre-first release model.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement (via Variety).
“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 theatres in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”
The movies Warner Bros. is planning to release include: Dune, The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, 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, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints Of Newark, King Richard, and Cry Macho.
Warner’s move will allow HBO Max users (where the service is currently only available in the US) to watch the new films for 31 days. The films will also play in US cinemas, which honours existing relationships with movie theatre distributors such as AMC and Regal.
At present, Warner Bros.’s said it will run the experiment for one year. NME has contacted WarnerMedia for comment with regards to plans for the UK.
The news follows the confirmation that Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in the UK this month. Patty Jenkins’ long-awaited sequel launches on HBO Max in the US but is also set for a theatrical release across the UK.
The film will receive a staggered release across the US, beginning with a launch on HBO Max and in cinemas where possible on December 16. It will expand to more US cinemas on December 25.