“Suicide Squad 2,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Dune” and “The Matrix 4”—all these and more set to release on HBO Max.

Cinemas have been hurting for movie-goers. You can rent out whole movie theaters for a hundred dollars or so and even hotly anticipated movies like Tenet kind of failed at the box office. 

In the biggest commitment yet to releasing new movies on streaming platforms, Warner Bros. announced last week that their whole 2021 release calendar will stream to HBO Max alongside theatrical releases. Warner Bros. had previously committed to releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on both HBO Max and in theaters on Christmas Day, but now all these titles are planned for release to HBO Max in 2021:

  • The Little Things
  • Judas and the Black Messiah
  • Tom & Jerry
  • Godzilla vs. Kong
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Those Who Wish Me Dead
  • The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
  •  In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy
  • The Suicide Squad
  • Reminiscence, Malignant
  • Dune
  • The Many Saints of Newark
  • King Richard
  • Cry Macho
  • Matrix 4

If you're subscribed to HBO Max, you'll have instant access to these movies as they release worldwide to theaters. There will be a 30-day window that subscribers will be able to stream the new release—a bit like turning your living room into a theater of rotating titles. WarnerMedia is also offering a new 2021 price point that's 22% cheaper, making it $69.99 or just under $12 a month. 

Signs of Troubled Times for Theaters?

Ann Sarnoff, chief executive of the WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, 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, We can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films.”

While some movie studios have stayed bullish about the future of movie theaters, Warner Bros. is calling it now. John Stankey, CEO of AT&T (the parent company of Warner Bros.), described the outlook to investors a couple of months ago:

"We’re not optimistic. We’re not looking that we’re seeing here — expecting a huge recovery in theatrical moving into the early part of next year. We’re expecting it to continue to be choppy. As a result of that, we’re having to evaluate all of our options and keeping them open."

Warner Bros. is huge—the only taller kid on the playground, in terms of market share, is Disney. With Warner leading the pivot to streaming, will others follow suit? Is this the final knell for movie theaters? Leave a comment with your thoughts!