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HBO Max to get Dune, Matrix 4, all 2021 Warner Bros. films same day as theaters

In a surprise announcement, HBO Max has declared that its subscribers will get to see Dune, Matrix 4, and every other 2021 movie release from Warner Bros. on the same day as their theatrical release.

The titles will begin an exclusive one-month run on HBO Max in the U.S., according to Variety, while the rest of the world will need to attend screenings in person at movie theaters. The move comes on the heels of HBO Max’s announcement that Wonder Woman 1984 will hit the streaming service on the same day (December 25) as theaters, and will be presented in 4K, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos on compatible devices and smart TVs.

“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions,” WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement, “including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. 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 theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”

Among the movies that WarnerMedia currently has planned for 2021 are The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho, Dune, and Matrix 4.

As unorthodox as this strategy may be, it’s not necessarily the start of an entirely new model for the movie industry. Comments from WarnerMedia suggest that it’s primarily a response to the current ongoing pandemic both in the U.S. and around the world. “This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners, and moviegoing in general throughout 2021,” Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich said in a separate statement.

The decision is likely to create shockwaves in the streaming industry.

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