By MICHAEL GINGOLD
In an unprecedented move, the studio is applying the strategy it’s employing for WONDER WOMAN 1984 to its entire next year’s slate.
Variety reports that after debuting WW84 simultaneously in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service on Christmas Day, Warners will take the same tack throughout 2021, as a result of uncertainty about the status of movie houses during the ongoing pandemic. Those titles include Michael Chaves’ THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, currently set to open June 4, Adam Wingard’s GODZILLA VS. KONG, scheduled for May 21, and James Wan’s currently undated MALIGNANT, as well as big-ticket fantasy titles such a Denis Villeneuve’s DUNE, THE MATRIX 4 and the reboot of MORTAL KOMBAT. All of the films will be available on HBO Max for 31 days, after which they’ll be in theaters only until they appear on other streaming platforms later.
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff said in a statement. “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.
“With this unique one-year plan,” she continues, “we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”