We’re four months into WarnerMedia’s “holy shit”-caliber decision to release every single movie on its 2021 slate simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, and though the plan has some very famous detractors, it does appear to be working as the company intended—which is to say that all of the movies seem to be doing (relatively) okay at both the theatrical box office and the Home Box Office. When the pandemic-necessitated shift was announced, though, Warner Bros. made it clear that this was only going to apply to 2021, presumably as an attempted concession to the many filmmakers who evidently weren’t consulted about this beforehand. The idea was that COVID-19 had so thoroughly fucked-up the movie industry that Warner Bros.’ only options were to continue delaying movies forever or come up with some new solution, and it has maintained that the new solution it came up with was only ever a temporary thing.
Whether or not you believe that, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has once again stepped in to reiterate that the HBO Max thing only applied to 2021, but it is worth noting that even he doesn’t seem fully convinced anymore. Speaking with Vox, Kilar said that it’s “very fair to say” that something like “a big DC movie” in the future will “go exclusively to theaters first and then go to somewhere like an HBO Max after it’s in theaters.” So yeah, it’s not an especially confident statement, as it leaves an entire city’s worth of wiggle room, but he is at least kind of saying that things will go back to something closer to normal in 2022.
Then again, he’s also basically saying that anything less than a new Batman movie could go to HBO Max, so who knows? Like we noted when we wrote up Godzilla Vs. Kong’s respectable showing at the box office earlier this week, WB’s relationships with filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Patty Jenkins, and Denis Villeneuve are going to be the real deciding factor in if this streaming scheme continues—and hey, would you look at that, all three of them have been making pretty big movies lately that would seem to fit Kilar’s criteria for what would be exclusive to theaters. It is pretty easy to imagine a scenario where WB releases a new Nolan film in theaters but holds onto the next, say, The Little Things as a simultaneous theatrical/HBO Max release.