Early in 2021, Warner Brothers announced a monumental shift in the landscape of cinema, revealing that their upcoming slate of films for the year would be released simultaneously on streaming service HBO Max and in cinemas.
Causing a massive rift in the industry, such a decision has led other streaming services Disney+, Amazon Prime and Apple TV+ to consider whether this may be the future of cinema, though with Warner’s experiment winding to a close it appears as though it may not have been the success they had hoped for.
Including the likes of In the Heights and The Suicide Squad directed by James Gunn, Cry Macho and The Many Saints of Newark, many of Warner Brothers’ efforts have failed to resonate with audiences, producing meagre box office results. King Richard, starring Will Smith and The Matrix 4, AKA Matrix: Resurrections, are due to bring this experiment to a close at the end of the year.
According to Warner Media chief Jason Kilar in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: “A lot of other people were selling their movies to Netflix and Amazon. We provided a service to movie theatres. And we worked our tails off to make sure that we were being thoughtful and generous with talent as well”.
Warner Brothers’ slate for 2022 looks to ditch any sight of independent features, doubling down on event movies including the likes of The Batman, Black Adam, The Flash, Aquaman 2 and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.
Warner Bros. Entertainment chairman-CEO Ann Sarnoff also confirmed that there will be no more simultaneous releases, noting there will be a 45-day window before a title hits HBO Max. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter she comments, “And, no great surprise, the ones we’re putting in theatres are the ones we think we’ll work. It’s not just about budget size, it’s also about genre and the behavioural patterns of people”.