To say 2020 has been an unprecedented year would be a gross understatement. From the smallest of film festivals right up to the big boys like Warner Bros and Disney have stalled a year’s worth of blockbusters in hopes of eventually returning to the big screens.
But while Warner Bros has seemingly been more reluctant to resorting to subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) services despite Disney’s success with the live action Mulan remake on native streaming service Disney+, Warner now seems to be the frontrunner with all their 2021 films scheduled to hit HBO MAX.
While Warner’s initial apprehension regarding the use of streaming services as the premiere platform for their films is understandable, the lacklustre performance of both DC Comics’ Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) and Chris Nolan’s Tenet has probably convinced them that they may have less to lose with going direct to audience.
Warner’s partnership with HBO has dated back some years gaining some prominence earlier this year with the announcements of a Justice League Dark and a Green Lantern series being developed for the platform by J. J. Abrams.
The Warner-HBO partnership also gained attention with the announcement of a Snyder cut of the 2017 Justice League film slated for release via HBO Max next year. HBO has also invested a further US$30 million in reshoots and edits for the film which will premiere as a four-part miniseries.
While the content release relationship between Warner and HBO remains to be fully explored, this bold move in of shifting to the platform early on certainly indicates the studios faith in the channel and their streaming service.
Following Wonder Woman 1984 later this year, some of the films expected to be affected by this new approach include The Suicide Squad, Dune, Space Jam 2, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Conjuring 3, Tom & Jerry, and The Matrix 4. All films are expected to be available in 4K and HDR formats.
While HBO Max remains to see a global release, non-US audience will presumably be able to access content via the Max’s global counterpart HBO GO.