Two weeks ago, it was announced that Wonder Woman 1984 would be released in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously on the same day, and people thought nothing of it until now. Recently, Warner Bros has announced that they will be releasing their entire 2021 slate on HBO Max and in theaters the same day, to which has caused not only people in the business talking, but also general audiences. Some people like this move, while others don’t. This has made people think of the big question: is this the end of movie theaters? Not only has the public thought of this, but also people in the show business. Legendary Entertainment, a production company, has even thought of taking legal action against WB over their move.
One of the most notable people in showbiz who has been vocal about WB’s decision has been none other than Christopher Nolan. The film director has spoken out and claimed that HBO Max is “the worst streaming service” and he’s not the only one. According to The Hollywood Reporter, other filmmakers and actors who work under WB have felt displeased about the move. “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service” said Nolan in a statement to THR.
Furthermore, there’s been discussions of having pay packages. Typically, the writers, directors, and actors get two paychecks. While the first one is up front and guaranteed, the second one depends on whether the film was a flop or a hit. If it’s a flop, they don’t see the second paycheck. If the film is a box office hit, then they would see a large paycheck. With movies hitting both theaters and streaming, it would be difficult to see how much a film would actually earn, as WB has said that, unlike Disney, they won’t be charging their users an extra fee to watch brand new movies in the comfort of their own home.
I previously wrote about this back in August. That was a time when these thoughts weren’t the main focus and were just a thought on the back of our minds, but since then the time has changed. Despite WB’s choice to launch movies simultaneously in theaters and streaming, I still stand by what I wrote. Movie theaters are here to stay. Sure, seeing a movie in your house is nice, but it doesn’t replace the experience of the cinema. WB’s choice was not only good, but necessary during these times. COVID-19 is still going on, and some people still take precautionary measures to social distance. Not to mention HBO Max isn’t available worldwide. Movie theaters are already open in other territories where the virus has been under control, and they would have the international market in terms of box office.
This, of course, is temporary. As soon as COVID-19 is long gone, I believe movies will be released in theaters before heading to streaming. It’s similar to streaming services vs physical media. Although there are people who use streaming and don’t buy physical media, the content is still made and sold. I prefer physical media over watching a movie on streaming, and I definitely prefer going to the theater than watching a new movie online. Nolan claims WB’s bold move doesn’t make economic sense, but what is there to do during this pandemic? Some people will decide to stay safe and get a subscription to HBO Max, but other markets will be going the theater route, and at the end of the day movie theaters will come out winning.