Warner Bros 2021 movies will hit HBO Max streamers the same day as theaters

(Source: Clay Enos/DC Comics)

By Yahoo Finance US Editor-at-Large Daniel Robert

WarnerMedia, owned by AT&T, rocked Hollywood when it announced Thursday that he will release all of his Warner Bros. 2021 on its HBO Max streaming platform at the same time the films hit theaters.

The news sent US shares of AMC (CMA) down 14%, Cinemark (CNK) down 17%, and IMAX (IMAX) down 7%.

After a month of exclusive streaming on HBO Max, the films will leave the platform and continue to hit theaters, the company said, calling the plan a “unique, consumer-focused distribution model” and a “response strategic to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic.

Yahoo finance industry sources say the move was prompted by Jason Kilar, the founder and former CEO of Hulu, who became CEO of WarnerMedia in May and quickly initiated a reshuffle of the executive.

The experience will begin with “Wonder Woman 1984,” which WarnerMedia previously announced would release simultaneously on HBO Max and US theaters on December 25.

The Warner Bros. film lineup. 2021 includes “Dune,” “Matrix 4,” “In The Heights,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” and the “Sopranos” prequel film “The Many Saints of Newark.”

WarnerMedia’s move is an effort to boost subscriptions to HBO Max, which launched in May, but it’s also the latest pandemic-driven salvo by movie studios and content creators against traditional theaters of ” theatrical window.

A survey last month by Yahoo Finance and Harris Poll found that 81% of Americans haven’t been to the movies since before March, even though movie theaters have reopened in their area. 56% of respondents said they were worried about contracting COVID-19, while 20% said they were worried that cinemas weren’t cleaned enough and 12% said they didn’t want to wear a mask while watching the movie. But a further 22% said there was no movie they wanted to go see and 19% said they preferred to stream movies at home.

At the start of the pandemic, Universal made waves when it put “Trolls World Tour” directly on digital rental for a fee of $20. Universal made more rentals in three weeks than the first Trolls movie made in theaters in five months. The cinema chains were furious.

Disney has since followed suit in September pushing ‘Mulan’ directly to Disney+ for a $30 digital purchase fee (with limited success) and delayed three Marvel movies until 2021, while Warner Bros. delayed “Wonder Woman 1984” for the third time, both studios signaling that they don’t see moviegoers returning to theaters in large numbers for a long timealthough theaters were allowed reopen in most of the United States

As Covid-19 cases have continued, the the situation for AMC and other channels like Cinemark is direand WarnerMedia’s latest decision worsens the outlook.

Daniel Roberts is an editor at Yahoo Finance and covers the streaming wars closely. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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