It’s been a while since the entertainment world had some real “holy shit” news, but those are really only two words that can capture an announcement like this: As reported by Deadline, Warner Bros. has revealed that every single movie on its 2021 schedule will be available on HBO Max at the same time as its theatrical release. That’s the same offer being made for Wonder Woman 1984, but expanded to a ton of major new releases, specifically: The Little Things with Denzel Washington, Judas And The Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints Of Newark (the Sopranos prequel), King Richard, Cry Macho, and Matrix 4.
There’s a catch, naturally, but it is a small one: All of those movies will be available on HBO Max the same day they’re in theaters, but they’ll only be available on the streaming platform for one month going back to a more traditional distribution system (i.e. they’ll only be in theaters, then they’ll be on DVD and on-demand, then maybe they’ll be on HBO or a different platform). Still, though, that’s a ton of new movies from various genres and intended for various different audiences, all available for free with the HBO Max subscription you might already have anyway. Again: Holy shit.
Warner Bros. is very adamant that this is a 2021 solution only, to account for the fact that theaters won’t be widely reopening any time soon even if the potential vaccines are approved and distributed as soon as possible, and the company literally describes it as a “win-win for film lovers and exhibitors” in a press release. If you want to see one of those movies in a theater, you can. If you don’t want to run the risk, you don’t have to. And if you were really curious about it but would never pay money to see, say, Tom & Jerry, Warne rBros. would like to introduce you to a little thing called HBO Max. It’s weirdly elegant in a way that very few of these pandemic-induced movie industry shifts have been. The company even put out a snappy trailer for this announcement, so you can watch that instead of reading this (though by now it’s too late):