Warner Bros. to release 17 films to HBO Max same day as in theaters

Dramatically altering the normal pattern of movie releasems, Warner Bros. on Thursday said it will release 17 films — including “Dune,” “The Matrix 4” and “The Suicide Squad” — to its HBO Max streaming service for 31 days the same day they premiere in theaters.

Apple to distribute HBO Max

Jon Swartz for MarketWatch:

News of Warners’ move sent shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. down sharply 18%. The unprecedented strategy comes amid the worst stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the closure of movie theaters nationwide.

Warner previously said “Wonder Woman 1984” will be available on HBO Max as well as theaters on Dec. 25.

The studio’s slate of 2021 releases include the aforementioned three movies plus “Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously theater owners hope that once COVID-19 vaccines are widely distributed and blockbuster movies are more regularly released to the public, that these trends will reverse, but we wouldn’t bank on it. These behaviors have likely been changed forever, as predicted:

Let’s see:

A) $19.99 for a first-run movie in the comfort of your own house on a large screen, with controllable audio volume (even closed captioning if you desire), with the entire family and your own all-you-can-eat popcorn, candy, and drinks for under $10 total for everyone


B) At least $80.00 for a family of four with criminally-overpriced often-stale popcorn, candy, and drinks at a potentially COVID-encrusted theater packed with uncouth idiots from who-knows-where talking, eating, coughing, sneezing, crunching bags, looking their phones, getting up to go to the bathroom, etc.

It’s such a difficult choice!

The $10 bucket of 10-cents worth of popcorn and the $6 cup of 6-cents worth of soda are obvious clues that theatre owners don’t have a sustainable business model.

Bottom line: It took a global pandemic to wake up Hollywood and drag it kicking and screaming into the new millennium at least a decade late. We’re sure Steve Jobs was telling Hollywood honchos this would happen long ago.MacDailyNews, April 28, 2020


  1. I was in the business but predicted this over 10 years ago. It’s inevitable. Time saving, convenient, cheaper, more relaxing, yes cheaper eats, pause anytime you like, watch more than once if you are so inclined, etc.. Too many advantages to count.

    You lose out on suffering with inconsiderate audiences, poor projection, poor screen lineup, low lumen brightness, and ambient theater “safety” light spraying all over the screen but I think the trade-offs are worth it.

  2. Hey we are all really gonna miss the BS and theatrical bloviations of some celltard sitting behind you jabber jawing about the movie scene……..etc etc etc…

    Yeah I’m gonna give up my 80 inch 4k Home Theater NOT…..!!!

    Buh bye movieland

  3. Love movies, but my hyper-expensive family cinema trips nights are long over.
    I’ll still go for just the two of us, as it’s a night out, and better than the sofa.
    And since we eat nothing other than perhaps a small ice cream tub, the add-ons don’t really figure.

  4. I do miss the theater experience. I used to go to the first run on Sunday morning. Very often the theater is less than 10% full — occasionally, there was only a handful of people in the theater. Plus, getting there for the first run, the popcorn is fresh (and getting the refillable size makes it almost worth it).

    As for price of home viewing versus theater: the Sunday morning rates are significantly less expensive and there’s only the two of us: my wife and me. Even with popcorn and drinks the overall price is barely more than they want to charge me for a home viewed, first run movie (and sometimes less as in Mulan).

    Many cannot afford a very large (80 inch as one poster stated) UHD screen (aka “4k”). The “4K” TVs are just now getting into the range of affordability by the average consumer — and even now that’s not for the very large screens. In reality the vast majority of persons will never have an 80 inch (or one of the super sized 100+ inch) TVs. They just won’t fit in their home.

    Plus, the majority of films do not fit the HD or UHD format of 16:9 so you get either an edited “pan & scan” version or you get letter boxed. Some are still shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. There goes that vaunted home very large screen experience! (FYI, 4K is a Digital Cinema standard and has been for about 20 years. It’s different from what people call “4K”, which is really Ultra High Definition TV. The two are different in both aspect ratio and dynamic range and often frame rate.)

    As a former long time member of the Hollywood Post Alliance, I bet it would be surprising to most how “Hollywood accounting” works. For example, in part, 100% of the ticket price of the first few weeks of almost any film’s run goes to the studio. The theater gets none of it. The number of weeks that this happens depends upon the film and negotiations. Then there is a decrease over time as to how much the studio gets of the ticket sales. This results in many months old movies showing up at the “dollar theaters” as the theater gets virtually 100% of the ticket sales until the studio pulls it completely.

    And don’t even get me started on how a movie that costs $100 million to make, market, and distribute must have a net income to the studio of over $150 million (or more) to even break even. It really is “Hollywood accounting”. And, all that has nothing to do with whether it’s shown in theaters or direct to home.

    Yes, theaters charge a ridiculous amount for popcorn, treats, and drinks (and no, it’s not like MDN stated that a $6 drink only costs them 6 cents — hell, the cup, lid, and straw costs them more than that), but they charge that because they get such a small percentage of ticket sales.

    The bottom line as I see it is that it is cost effective (and less hassle) for a moderate to large family to do home viewing, but that there is a significant fraction of the population that will still go to the theater when that becomes practical again.

    1. Great long post. Thanks for all the information. It’s sad that the business model for first-run theatrical movies means virtually all their revenue comes from selling everything EXCEPT the movie itself. I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.

      That said, I too appreciate the theatrical experience for what it is — an “experience”. There is something special about seeing a film in a large theater, with an image that fills your field of vision, sound that you feel in your chest, and a throng that gets into the event. I can’t get that in my living room, even with my 65-inch flat screen and subwoofer…

  5. Well, I do enjoy going to the theater. Working part time, I can go during the weekday matinees that draw very small crowds, and I get senior citizen pricing besides. But I do have a 4K tv and a 4K source device, so I will give it a try with Wonder Woman 1984.

  6. Hollywood killed the theaters. It’s not really the theater’s fault. Hollywood charges them so much to carry the films that they have to charge $8 for popcorn just to try and make a profit. Plus, the theaters bare the cost of constantly improved audio standards, expensive projection equipment, and then the cost of operating large spaces that require heat/air.

    The theaters that will survive are the dine-in theaters. They’ve found a formula that works – fewer seats, smaller theaters, but they serve food and more importantly – alcohol.

  7. Don’t forget the pause button…worth it’s weight in gold by itself. Missed the end of The Hobbit through to many beers 🍻(ok my fault), but it wouldn’t have happened at home.

    1. Marcus hit the nail directly on the head….pause button. At home, if someone starts to chat in the middle of a movie, I hit the pause button and say, if you are not watching the movie then leave. Same if they pull out a pocket flashlight (aka a cell phone) and shine it in my eyes because the just HAVE TO send a text or see a funny meme etc etc.
      I could never understand that people pay a large amount of money (tickets and food) to go to the cinema and only watch <50% of it because they are multi-tasking…much to the annoyance of the movie-goers surrounding them.
      I am lucky to have a 7.1 surround system with an 85inch 4K TV and 4K player. This is because i never want to see the inside of a cinema again. As for costs, all the money you save not bringing all your family to a movie can go towards a decent home system….where YOU control the pause button

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.