Most industries have been hard hit by the global lockdowns, but those that involve being with other people you don't know have had a really rough go of it. Some of these industries have had some recovery, partially because there are no real alternatives. However, movie theaters have struggled because films have delayed their release dates, like Wonder Woman 1984 or moved to streaming services, like Mulan. Things are going to continue to get difficult for theaters, as WarnerMedia has announced that the entire spate of 2021 films will premiere on HBO Max, the company's own streaming service, the same day they land in theaters.
Some of the films that will be releasing this way will be Dune and The Matrix 4. Both of these films have been highly anticipated, despite the history of both franchises. Dune has never produced a good movie, and The Matrix lost its shine after the original. However, these releases, as well as WarnerMedia's other films, could have been a big part of the turnaround for theaters.
This policy came about because of the decision to use this strategy for Wonder Woman 1984, which will finally release in theaters and on HBO Max this Christmas. While the company worked this plan out with theaters ahead of time, they did not consult the theaters about future films. With this announcement, theater owners are not happy. AMC's CEO Adam Aron believes that the move has nothing to do with safety, but instead believes its a business move. He 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 startup. 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.
So, expect this move to be fought by AMC, who will have some control over the terms of the release agreement. While this may not be a win for AMC, it could be a win for some consumers. HBO Max costs $15 per month and will not charge extra for the new releases the way Disney+ has with theirs. However, if you were hoping to use a free trial to see Diana Prince, you're out of luck, as HBO Max no longer offers free trials. It is still not available on the Roku platform, meaning the top streaming platform is not able to play.