Warners to release on big screen and streaming: will other studios follow?

As the covid-19 pandemic continues to make film releases difficult Warner Bros moves to make its new films available via streaming.

Warner Bros are to simultaneously release all their 2021 movies on the big screen as well as HBO Max according to an article in The Verge.

There will be a one month window during which you can watch via streaming after which they will disappear. Presumably for three months or so after which they become available again on DVD/Blu Ray etc.

It’s an experiment, as the industry faces challenging times. Warner Bros CEO Ann Sarnoff is quoted as saying:

“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions[..] No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the US will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021”.

Source: The Verge

The idea of a limited window during which you can stream seems reasonable to me, although I’d always thought it would be much shorter – say a week, or even a window of a few hours to “premiere” the movie worldwide.

The big question is whether other studios will follow suit and, if so, when. In the Bond community all eyes are now on Eon/MGM and No Time to Die.

Barbara Broccoli is known to be totally against releasing the film on a streaming service but that may depend on what happens to MGM. There is pressure to find a buyer for the studio which is bleeding money because of interest repayments on the loan it took out to finance the 25th Bond film.

And if other studios move to a similar distribution model then it makes it more likely for MGM to follow. As always, time will tell.

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