A few months ago WarnerMedia shook Hollywood by announcing every movie would screen in both theaters and HBO Max simultaneously in 2021, and now they seem to want to keep some version of that model going forward.
In the latest episode of Vox’s Recode Media podcast, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar confirmed that the company will return to prioritizing theatrical distribution in 2022, at least with its big-budget productions. “I think it’s very fair to say that a big, you know, let’s say a big DC movie […] that would go exclusively to theaters first and then go to somewhere like an HBO Max after it’s in theaters,” Kilar said.
But more interestingly, Kilar says that release model won’t be company-wide. “I think you’ll see two types of movies,” he continued. “There’s certainly going to be the epic and the big motion pictures that will go to theaters first, but there’s also going to be a number of movies that we proudly produce at Warner Bros. that go to HBO Max on the first day as well. I said this last year, I don’t think we’re going to see the world go back to 2016. I think the world is changing and that’s how the world’s supposed to work, and we’re obviously going to adapt to that and in many ways lead the charge there.
Though the move to have all Warner Bros. movies from 2021 go to HBO Max at the same time they screen in theaters sparked a huge controversy last year, it’s hard to argue against the numbers. “Godzilla vs. Kong” has proved to be a box office success despite it also being available to stream at home, and Kilar said he’s “very happy” with the performance of the release strategy so far.