Warner Bros. on Thursday shocked the entertainment world by saying it would put all of its 2021 movies — a 17-title list that includes such highly awaited films as “Dune,” “In the Heights” and “The Matrix 4” — on HBO Max at the same time they play in theaters, upending a well-established business model in the hope of redeeming a flagging streaming service.
CEO Jason Kilar Speaks
On Thursday, AT & T’s WarnerMedia announced that it will release a total of 2021 films directly to HBO Max at the same time as they enter theaters. Investors and industry viewers have hailed it as a world-class hit in the movie theater industry. AMC Entertainment is down 16% on the day. Cinemark is down 22%.
WarnerMedia chief executive Jason Kilar thinks they are just over reacting.
“Everyone has to breathe,” Kilar said in an interview. “Let’s play for the next six, eight, ten months. Then look again. ”
Kilar has blamed his decision, refusing to say that his decision to kill a decades-old theater window next year will continue beyond 2021.
“Certainly this has to do with the pandemic,” Kilar said. “That’s why we do it. We have never used a single brain cell for what the world looks like in 2022.”
He also added, “I learned long ago not to make statements over a year from now.”
Theatre Industry In Shambles?
However, WarnerMedia may have just removed the genie from the bottle. The decision to kill the theater window next year coincides with Kilar’s biggest task – to turn HBO Max into a global behemoth competing with Netflix.
Even if the move is permanent, Kilar does not believe that ending a theater window could mean the destruction of theaters.
“I’m sure in the next few decades there will be a huge influx of consumers around the world who will choose any night, especially Friday or Saturday night, to go out to the theater that will entertain the great Warner Brothers,” said Kilar.
Kilar also noted that overseas movies – which generate a lot of revenue from the box office – will be released for the first time in theaters with standard window rules. HBO Max will make its international debut next year.
Kilar believes other entertainment companies – Disney, Lionsgate, Comcast NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS – will have to decide in the next “few months” whether to follow WarnerMedia’s lead in the 2021 window. WarnerMedia had not made any financial arrangements with any theater companies prior to Thursday’s announcement, according to someone familiar with the matter.
“Obviously, Warner Media aims to donate a large portion of the profits of its movie category, with its partners and filmmakers, to support its HBO Max launch,” said Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theater series. . “As for AMC, we will do our best to ensure that Warner does not do so at our own expense. We will strive to adhere to the economic principles that protect our business. ”
Disney has already broken the window with movies like “Mulan,” but has charged consumers $ 30 for watching Disney +. The HBO Max decision – which makes 17 movies available without additional subscription fees – is a major step in the direction of growing subscribers to streaming more than anything else.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar declined to say whether his decision to release all 17 2021 films from Warner Brothers would continue beyond 2021.
Kilar said his decision was linked to the pandemic.