A few months ago, WarnerMedia turned Hollywood upside down by streaming all of its new movies on HBO Max on the same day they debuted in theaters.
Now it wants to put the genie back in the bottle. Starting next year, CEO Jason Kilar says, Warner's greatest films will hit theaters first and eventually make their way to the company's streaming service.
“I think it's very fair to say that a big, you know, let's say a big DC movie … it's very fair to say it goes to theaters exclusively first and then somewhere like an HBO Max after being in theaters, ”he told me about this week's episode of Recode media
That means this year, if you want to watch The suicide squad, a new DC Comics movie, you can stream it at home on the day it debuts. But in 2022, when Warner plans to release The batter, you have to go to theaters.
Kilar's announcement won't shock Hollywood: Cineworld, the company that owns the Regal theater chain in the US., has already announced it has a deal to show Warner movies on its screens for 45 days before moving on to streaming. And it is reasonable to assume that Warner intended to do the same with other major theater chains such as AMC.
But until this week, WarnerMedia had yet to confirm that it was reverting to a version of its pre-pandemic business plan. It's another indicator that while major media companies are eager to build their new streaming services, they want to keep the traditional movie industry going for a while. While companies like WarnerMedia, Disney, Comcast and ViacomCBS have all experimented with streaming first movies while theaters were closed during the pandemic, they have all said they want their biggest movies back in theaters.
That still hasn't happened. Last month, Disney announced that it is shifting plans for theatrical debut types Black Widow, the next Marvel movie, from May to July – and when the movie hit theaters, it would also be available for $ 30 rental through its Disney + streaming service.
Kilar said he is satisfied with the results of his company's streaming and theater experiment so far – noting the relative success of the box office. Godzilla to Kong, which brought in $ 50 million in ticket sales last weekend, even though it was streaming at the same time. He has told investors he thinks the strategy has generated more interest in HBO Max and kept existing subscribers from leaving the service. But he admits that his company stumbled when it announced its plans late last year, confusing the film production and distribution companies.
“ There is no doubt that it was bumpy in early December last year, '' he said, adding that if he could have replayed his decision, he would have tried to issue a warning to some members of the Hollywood community. "If I had a chance to do it again, I think it's very fair to say we would have needed a few more days to see if we could have had more conversations than we could."
Kilar, who became a well-known media figure when he launched Hulu – the first attempt at streaming from major media – started working at WarnerMedia last spring, just as the company launched HBO Max, its high-profile attempt to catch up with Netflix. We had a broad talk about his first year on the track and his plans for the years to come, including his thoughts on sports rights, advertising in HBO Max, and the possibility of a CNN-branded streaming service. You can hear all of that below, or by listening to it Recode media on the podcast service of your choice.