Warner to release films simultaneously in streaming and in theaters, “an earthquake for the film industry”

Matrix 4 and Dune will thus benefit from this “hybrid” broadcast in the United States in 2021. A first in the film industry which questions the future of cinemas.

Hollywood drama. Warner Bros. Studios have decided that all of their films scheduled for 2021 in the United States, including the highly anticipated Matrix 4 and Dune , would be broadcast on their HBO Max video on demand platform alongside their theatrical release. The production company thus intends to limit the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their activity.

The announcement, which overturns industry codes and practices, testifies to the difficulty for Hollywood to adapt to the health crisis in the United States which has forced most of the country’s cinemas to close.

For Jeff Bock, sector analyst for the specialist company Exhibitor Relations, it is simply the “biggest earthquake the movie industry has ever seen“. “Warner made a sharp turn that could change the industry forever“, Estimates the expert.”We are living in an unprecedented period, which requires creativity to find solutionsWarner Bros CEO Ann Sarnoff explained in presenting the decision.

A decision for the moment reserved for the United States

It will only apply immediately to the United States, the HBO Max service is not available at this stage in other countries, where the Warner Bros catalog will normally be released in theaters next year. .

For many American observers, this bombastic announcement is also intended to revitalize the HBO Max platform, which suffered from a mixed launch across the Atlantic in May, reports the site French film . The service is expected to be extended to certain countries in Latin America and Europe in the second half of 2021.

In mid-November, Warner had already announced that Wonder Woman 1984 would be released in the United States simultaneously in theaters and streaming on Christmas Day, in an attempt to offset the impact of the pandemic that has rocked Hollywood and the schedule of super-productions. Experts expected that Wonder woman either an exception to the rule, at least the time to judge whether the operation was a success or not.

Traditionally, big Hollywood productions are only screened in theaters for 90 days before being broadcast on other media. But the closing of cinemas in many American regions, including New York and Los Angeles, has forced distributors to find fallback solutions.

No one wants to see movies on the big screen more than us. We know new content brings theaters to life, but we have to take into account that most theaters in the United States are likely to run at reduced capacity throughout 2021.“Pleaded Ann Sarnoff in her press release.

Lesson Tenet

By virtue of this economic model “hybridAnnounced by Warner Bros., the new films will be available on HBO Max from the day of their theatrical release in the United States, and for a period of one month.

The decision should concern at least 17 titles next year, among which one “prequel»Inspired by the series Sopranos and a sequel to the DC superhero movie Suicide Squad.

The biggest production is undoubtedly Matrix 4 , sequel to the saga which has already grossed more than $ 1.6 billion worldwide and for which Keanu Reeves will reprise his role as Neo. Its release is scheduled for December 2021.

Another highly anticipated film, Dune , new adaptation of the legendary science fiction novel published by Frank Herbert in 1965. The feature film directed by Denis Villeneuve, with Timothée Chalamet in the role of the hero Paul Atréides, was to be the high point of the 2020 film season. But its release, initially scheduled for November, has already been postponed twice due to the health crisis.

Major Hollywood studios are desperate for ideas to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is having a heavy financial impact on the industry.

Warner had released Tenet in theaters this summer but had to be content with rather disappointing receipts in the United States, marked by a bloodless box office.

Others have also started to postpone some of their streaming, such as Disney, which released its remake of Mulan on its Disney + platform in September. Drunk, latest production from Pixar Animation Studios, will air on the same platform in the United States on Christmas Day.

In France, the chronology of the media under the yoke of a reform

Warner and Disney have both completed their restructuring with their own video-on-demand platform and for analyst Jeff Bock, the health crisis could have profoundly accelerated a process already underway: the relegation of traditional cinemas to the background. of the economic model, behind streaming. “Now they’re just the Robin alongside the Batman that is HBO MaxHe said.

The temporary establishment of this mode of diffusion between two waters did not fail to react the CEO of AMC Entertainment, one of the largest movie theater chain in the United States. “It is clear that Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable chunk of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start-up. As for AMC, we will do everything in our power to ensure that Warner does not do it at our expense. We will strive to obtain economic conditions that preserve our activity. We have already entered into an immediate and urgent dialogue with Warner executives on this matter.“, did he declare.

In France, the media chronology, which allows a film to be made available on video on demand at least three years after its release in the cinema, should protect for the moment dark rooms, the first losers from this change of system. .

Under discussion for several years, a reform of this rule could however see the light of day. The Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot recently indicated in The echoes that the government could relax the treatment of Netflix and others if they invest in French cinema.


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