By Abb Jones
The Reelness

In a shocking move, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia has announced that it will release its entire 2021 film line-up on its HBO Max streaming platform in the United States the same time it debuts the films in theaters worldwide.

The announcement Thursday is an attempt to boost subscriptions for HBO Max, and underscores the crisis facing U.S. movie theaters in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic that has decimated the movie theater industry. Currently more than 60% of movie theaters in the U.S. have closed again, as coronavirus infections surge nationwide. Those theaters that are still open are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

Chris Pine and Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984, which is scheduled to premiere in theaters worldwide and on HBO Max on Christmas Day.

Warner Bros. plans to release Wonder Woman 1984 later this month on Christmas Day both on HBO Max, which is only available in the United States, and in theaters in the U.S. and worldwide. Among the other Warner Bros. films that will get the same treatment are The Matrix 4, Denis Villeneuve’s remake of Dune (shown in our cover photo above), Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation of In The Heights, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and James Wan’s Malignant. 

WarnerMedia Chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff is calling the model a “unique one-year plan” in response to the pandemic, but industry analysts fear it could spell the demise of traditional movie theaters.

Trolls World Tour turned a profit after going straight to video rental in April.

Universal made waves in April when it premiered Trolls World Tour straight to digital platforms for a $20 rental fee. As a result, the studio turned a hefty profit, making more money in three weeks of rentals than the first Trolls movie had made during its entire five months in theaters. Since then, Disney has followed suit in September with Mulan, which has been the most popular straight to video film of 2020.

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