Movie Theaters Are Not Happy With Warner Bros.’ HBO Max Release Plan
There some clear winners in Warner Bros. plan to release its entire 2021 movie slate on HBO Max the same day the films hit theaters around the world — certainly HBO Max subscribers, who will now get huge titles like The Matrix 4, Dune, and In the Heights throughout the year. Movie theaters are understandably much less pleased. These blockbusters are the lifeblood of the major multiplex chains under the best of times. And with the coronavirus still raging around the globe, these are anything but the best of times.
It’s not surprising, then, that some theater chains are not pleased with Warner Bros. AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron gave a statement in which he states that WarnerMedia “intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense.” He vowed to “aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, many theater chains didn’t learn of Warner Bros.’ plan “until the statement went out.” One of AMC’s biggest competitors, Cineworld, which owns Regal Cinemas here in the United States, provided a statement that largely focused on the development of vaccines “which is expected to be put in place earlier than previously anticipated.” After that happens, and theaters can fully reopen, they said they “will look to reach an agreement about the proper window and terms that will work for both sides.” They also noted “big movies are made for the big screen and we cannot wait to reopen our cinemas in Q1 in order to offer our customers, as always, the best place to watch a movie.” While that’s undeniably true, it’s less certain how some movie lovers will feel after they get used to watching titles like Dune and Wonder Woman 1984 at home without the hassle and price of a theater
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