Warner Bros. has announced they will release all of their 2021 movies to theaters and to streaming on HBO Max simultaneously.
This means that must-see movies slated for 2021, like Godzilla vs. Kong, Dune, and Matrix 4, will now be available to watch at home, as well as in theaters, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly-released films will be available for HBO Max users to stream for a month following their release.
Hoping to sweeten the deal for those who do not already have HBO Max, WarnerMedia is also offering a discounted subscription fee for users who sign up in the next six months, reducing the cost to less than 12 dollars a month.
Warner Bros.' announcement comes after a year that has been defined by uncertainty for the movie industry.
COVID-19 has led to disruptions in filming, delays in projects, and much-anticipated releases being put on hold indefinitely. The movies that have been released theatrically have seen lower box office returns, as many theaters are operating at reduced capacity.
Grappling with the challenges the year has presented, other companies have also experimented with changes to better accommodate movie fans during the pandemic.
Earlier this year, Disney experimented by making some movies, like Artemis Fowl, streaming exclusives available only online.
WarnerMedia has chosen instead to pursue a two-track model for 2021, releasing both to theaters and to streaming. As the CEO of Warner Bros., Ann Sarnoff, says, "we’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions."
Although Warner Bros. reports this plan is only for 2021, their decision has the potential to create lasting changes for the movie industry. Even prior to COVID-19, the industry was increasingly shaped by low turn-out at theaters and intense competition amongst streaming services.
This news offers a little more clarity about the months to come, and some hope that the sci-fi movies we've eagerly been waiting for will be finally hit screens (big and small).
After all, even in a pandemic, the spice must flow.
Featured still from "Dune" via Warner Bros. Pictures