Kushal Kumar Jha
Warner Bros to allow same-day web streaming of films from 2021 & disrupt the theatre market
Source: Reuters AT&T Inc' Warner Bros studios will allow same-day web streaming of all of their films from 2021. Films made under their studios will hit the theatres and HBO Max streaming service simultaneously, from 2021 onwards, the company said on Thursday. Movies including “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “The Suicide Squad,” will be available on HBO Max for one month starting on the same day they hit the theaters, the studio said in a statement. “Mortal Kombat,” a new version of “Dune” and a “Matrix” sequel also are scheduled to follow the new release pattern. As the news hit the mainstream, shares of AMC Entertainment, which is the world's largest theatre operator fell almost 16% while its rival Cinemark's shares also dropped about 22%. The revolutionary change led by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar is being touted as one of the most significant and aggressive moves to date to bring movies into homes of audience way sooner than the traditional way. While this move will surely disrupt the theatre business in the US, it will also pave way for other studios adopting the same in the US and other regions globally. Executives at Warner Bros studios reportedly said that the strategy was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already limited the movie-going audience to their home. “We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group. The move has irked Cinema operators. AMC CEO Adam Aron said Warner Bros was sacrificing profits at its movie studio to boost HBO Max, adding: “we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense.” “We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business,” Aron said in a statement. Theatres and their economy have already been devastated by the pandemic and the move by Warner Bros is expected to worsen the struggle being faced by cinema operators and theatre owners. Walt Disney Co has also moved some of its movies from theaters to its Disney+ streaming service and is expected to come out with its streaming plans on Dec. 11.