After deciding to release its full slate of 2021 Warner Bros. films on HBO Max under a hybrid streaming and theatrical model, it appears WarnerMedia is prepared to continue using its Warner Bros. assets to lure subscribers to the service in 2022.
During AT&T’s second-quarter earnings call this week, the company’s executives were asked about how the pandemic release model would shape a more permanent release strategy going forward, particularly as it relates to theaters. Citing the theatrical success of Godzilla vs. Kong to the tune of $463 million in revenue, WarnerMedia chief Jason Kilar responded that while “the motion picture format absolutely matters,” the company also feels “very good about the response that consumers have given it in the home.”
Kilar went on to say that Warner Bros. will be producing 10 films that will debut on HBO Max the same day they’re released. While it’s not clear which titles these 10 will include, the decision indicates that pandemic has significantly influenced the way that WarnerMedia will tackle its movie releases moving forward. Kilar expressly stated that the company does not plan to return to a film release strategy of the past.
“I certainly don’t anticipate us going back to the way the world was in 2015 or ’16 or ’17, where windows were quite lengthy between theatrical and home exhibition, whether it was an a la carte transaction or something else,” Kilar said. As previously announced earlier this year when Warner Bros. reached a multi-year agreement with Cineworld for 2021 and 2022 film exhibition, Kilar confirmed that theatrical windows for “a portion of our slate” would be 45 days.
WarnerMedia faced significant backlash when it announced earlier this year that its 2021 slate of films would debut under its same-day streaming and theatrical release model. Theaters were not especially pleased, but the strategy was also criticized by creators themselves, including directors Christopher Nolan and Dune director Denis Villeneuve. During the earnings call, Kilar said the industry would continue to “evolve.”
“I think that what you’re going to see is this industry continue to evolve and to continue to innovate in ways that not only works for consumers and fans, but also works for our business partners,” Kilar said.