In a sign of just how much coronavirus lockdowns have affected the movie industry, Warner Bros. announced Thursday that it would make its entire roster of 2021 movies available for streaming on HBO Max in the U.S. the same day they are released in theaters.
After a month on HBO Max, the movies will be shown only in theaters.
Some of the upcoming titles include The Matrix 4, Godzilla vs. Kong and In the Heights.
The move may have been sparked by the disappointing performance of the action-thriller Tenet, which was released in theaters in September.
Many of the nation’s movie theaters reopened in late summer, but not in the key markets of New York and Los Angeles. The Associated Press reported that since their reopening, 60% of theaters have closed again.
“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do," Ann Sarnoff, chief executive of WarnerMedia Studios, said in a statement. "We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021."
Warner Bros., the second-biggest studio in terms of market share, called the move a “unique one-year plan.”