For those crying foul over Warner Bros. going day and date to HBO Max on all 17 theatrical releases in 2021 (see: Goodbye Theatrical Window – Warner Bros. Goes Day and Date on All 17+ Movie Releases in 2021: HBO Max and Theaters Simultaneously), the wheeling and dealing continues behind the scenes.
Warner Bros. has spent the past few weeks speaking to its partners, like LeBron James’s SpringHill Entertainment and director Jon Chu, to further explain its strategy, and lay out the argument that they will make more money this way. Though Warner Bros. believed it had the rights to release its movies to HBO Max without the consent of its partners, it has since adjusted their contracts to offer more favorable terms.Warner Bros. Guarantees Filmmakers a Payday for HBO Max Movies – Bloomberg
Even the cast and crew of these movies will be getting touched up, according to the Bloomberg article. Normally they don’t receive spiffs from the theatrical release, so this is a bonus.
Strangely, Warner Bros. chose the route of announce first, deal with the fallout later. They wanted their announcement to go out without leaks, to be a bit of a holiday surprise perhaps. They are also planning on returning to normal terms once these 2021 releases are done.
We support day and date releases, just as we support reducing the theatrical window, so obviously we weren’t in the crowd dissing WarnerMedia for their controversial decision. If companies want to save money, our position is to do it with lowering film budgets and reduce the process of remaking successful films.
The one thing we do agree with is WarnerMedia should have negotiated with their business partners before they announced their plans. They contend they didn’t have to, which seems murky both ethically and legally, but we’ll see how this impacts them.
Parent company AT&T is trying to manage their debt load and this seems ill-timed on that front, but for subscriber growth, retention and future of HBO Max, this seems like a clever marketing move (see: Don’t Count Out HBO Max in 2021). Also, the pandemic is keeping a bunch of theaters shuttered more than open, so what is a studio supposed to do? Just keep delaying movies for years?