After a yr the place the film enterprise was outlined nearly completely by pauses and delays, Warner Bros. took decisive motion on December 3.
It had solely been a few weeks for the reason that studio had introduced that within the face of surging coronavirus numbers, it wouldn’t be delaying the Christmas launch of “Surprise Girl 1984” but once more. As a substitute, it will launch the film concurrently in theaters and on HBO Max, the brand new streaming service from its mum or dad firm WarnerMedia.
Whereas media/telecom executives and Wall Road traders appear prepared to make massive investments for a streaming-centric future, they’ll anticipate to see precise earnings quickly.
It turned out that this choice — already described as a transformative moment in the industry, and probably the beginning of the end for theaters — was just the start. On December 3, Warner Bros. introduced that it’s going to follow the exact same strategy for every movie on its theatrical slate in 2021.
This was welcome information to moviegoers desperate to lastly see “Within the Heights” (already delayed by a few yr due to the pandemic) or “Dune” (ditto). However whereas “Surprise Girl” director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot appeared to embrace this strategy, declaring that it was time to share their film with followers, different Warner Bros. filmmakers have been much less enthusiastic.
For instance, “The Darkish Knight” director Christopher Nolan complained that Warner Bros. executives “don’t even understand what they’re losing.” He claimed that filmmakers had gone to mattress “considering they have been working for the best film studio and woke as much as discover out they have been working for the worst streaming service.” (Nolan’s “Tenet” was launched in theaters within the fall, and its disappointing field workplace numbers, notably within the U.S., in all probability performed an enormous position in Warner’s choice.)
And in a guest column for Variety, “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve pointed his finger at AT&T, which acquired Time Warner a number of years earlier. He prompt that the streaming-centric technique had much less to do with the pandemic and extra with the underwhelming launch of HBO Max over the summer time.
“With HBO Max’s launch a failure to date, AT&T determined to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ whole 2021 slate in a determined try to seize the viewers’s consideration,” Villeneuve wrote.
Barely greater than per week after the Warner Bros. announcement, Disney had a big presentation of its own, laying out formidable streaming plans for the subsequent few years, with 10 Marvel reveals, 10 Star Wars reveals, 15 Disney/Pixar collection and 15 Disney/Pixar characteristic movies all within the pipeline for Disney+.
Disney’s bulletins weren’t greeted with the identical uproar and controversy as Warner’s — it didn’t signify a wholesale shift in its theatrical technique (the Marvel Studios movie “Black Widow” remains to be scheduled for a standard launch in Could, for instance), and in contrast to WarnerMedia, its bulletins didn’t blindside filmmakers and throw their compensation into query.
Nonetheless, the message to the trade and the general public was related: Whereas Disney isn’t abandoning theaters outright, it clearly sees streaming as its future, with the studio prepared to reboot any and each mental property (“Turner and Hooch”! “Swiss Household Robinson”! An “Alien” TV collection!) to draw potential subscribers.