It is just as well that WarnerMedia managed to launch its subscription streaming service HBO Max in March of 2020; that was when the COVID-19 outbreak became a true pandemic, leading to an initial period when everyone who could, stayed home. As such, WarnerMedia’s film studio Warner Bros. had an exclusive platform on hand to premiere some of their films when cinemas were limited, as with “Wonder Woman 1984” in December and “Godzilla vs. Kong” this past March. Note that the movies were meant to premiere “traditionally,” and used HBO Max only due to COVID theater limitations. But Warner has plans to produce more films just for HBO Max streaming.
So it is said on CNBC, that all through next year Warner Bros. Pictures is expected to do no less than 10 films that will all be streaming exclusives on HBO Max. This was said in a statement by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, during a second-quarter earnings call of the media giant’s parent company AT&T this past Thursday, July 22. Kilar explained that the unprecedented success of the streaming portion of their past simultaneous cinematic-HBO Max releases have proven the earning power of at-home viewers, even if theatrical releases remain important to Warner Bros. Pictures.
As Kilar puts it, while the motion picture format absolutely matters in theaters, “They also matter at home and, absolutely, in terms of the response that we’ve gotten not just from that title but from all of our day in day titles. We feel very good about the response that consumers have given it in the home.” The figures speak for themselves too. By adopting a day-and-date premiere for their WB Pictures releases, they have upped their subscriber numbers significantly. In the US that totals 47 million with 2.8 million added from the first quarter.
But these circumstances only came by due to the pandemic, and by 2022 WarnerMedia will institute a distinction between HBO Max exclusive and theatrical films. The latter will run 45 days in cinemas at minimum, while the former will stay streaming unless the films are nominated for the Academy Awards; in which case only those movies will be given limited theatrical runs at select locations. Jason Kilar notes that the times have changed status quo significantly that the pre-pandemic format of cinematic films waiting some length of time before going streaming is no longer feasible.
Image courtesy of JoBlo.com