The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we watch movies, with no glamorous premieres and just one tentpole film (Christopher Nolan’s Tenet) being released since the pandemic began earlier this year. Even with vaccines on the horizon and things getting back to normal sometime in 2021, WarnerMedia is still planning ahead. HBO Max just announced that the biggest movie premieres will be coming to the streaming platform in the United States next year.
I got you something ✨nice✨ this year:
🎁 The biggest movie premieres
🎁 In theaters and on HBO Max the exact same day
🎁 Beginning December 25 with #WonderWoman1984#HBOMax #WBPictures https://t.co/BZgFFRrrg2 pic.twitter.com/J2KBdWd9Tf
— HBO Max (@hbomax) December 3, 2020
Even before the coronavirus forced people into quarantine and unfortunately closed many movie theaters around the U.S. and the world, people were clamoring for movie studios to make movies available in homes when they hit theaters. Netflix has had success with limited theatrical runs ahead of home release (like Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman in 2019), and premium televisions and sound systems have already hit at or near movie-theater quality with 4K UHD, Dolby Vision, and HDR.
Among the films that will be available at home on the same day they hit theaters in 2021 are Dune, The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, and The Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark. If you have HBO Max (or if you have an HBO subscription from someplace like Xfinity that transfers into HBO Max access also), you’ll be able to watch these films and others for free in 2021 if you are located in the United States.
WarnerMedia’s decision is announced a couple of days after they revealed that Wonder Woman 1984 would be available in 4K UHD for its Christmas Day in-home release. You can bet all of these films will follow suit. (It looks like you might want to get a really big TV for Dune).
It remains to be seen whether this will lead to films being released at home the same time they hit theaters into the future, or if it’s a temporary thing during the global pandemic. But it should be a good trial run for WarnerMedia. Top directors have been vocal in the past and will still probably push for their work to debut in theaters only because they love the experience fans get from actually going to the movies, but that will not be the case for Warner Bros. movies next year.
With this news, and with 4K UHD likely coming to more content such as existing shows on the platform like Game of Thrones, HBO Max is looking like a powerhouse after a relatively disappointing launch back in May.