LOS ANGELES— AT&T Inc.’s Warner Bros. will release its entire 2021 slate of theatrical films simultaneously in theaters and on its HBO Max streaming service, the studio said Thursday, taking the most drastic step yet in eliminating the exclusivity theater chains have enjoyed for decades.
Warner Bros. movies will play on HBO Max during their first month of theatrical release before leaving the service while staying in theaters.
The hybrid model will apply to all of Warner Bros. films next year, from smaller-scale releases to big-budget movies that traditionally require gargantuan box-office sales to turn a profit. That includes the science-fiction adaptation “Dune,” a movie version of the musical “In The Heights” and a new installment of the “Matrix” franchise.
Warner Bros. last month said it was going to release “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max Christmas Day for a month at the same time the movie went into theaters. The announcement Thursday covers 17 films that are scheduled for release next year.
“It’s threading a needle in the middle of a pandemic,” said Carolyn Blackwood, the studio’s chief operating officer. “We weren’t comfortable sitting on our hands or punting these movies into oblivion.”