I got you something ✨nice✨ this year:— HBO Max (@hbomax) December 3, 2020
🎁 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
Holy smokes. Even with the film industry cratering due to the pandemic, I never thought I’d see the day a major movie studio would bite the bullet and start releasing blockbuster movies straight to streaming. It’s like the legal version everyone my age dreamed of after growing up pirating movies off Napster and Kazaa. Allegedly.
It all starts with Wonder Woman 1984 being released in theaters and on HBO Max at the same exact time on Christmas Day. I cannot overstate how MONUMENTAL of a shift that is in the movie industry. Who knows if this will last beyond 2021, but this is an awesome test because we’ve all seen media move towards streaming more and more the last few years. Sure, there are some movies that you really would prefer to see on the big screen, but with 50 inch 4K TVs selling for like $250 these days, it has become less important. And not to go completely dark on everyone, but with Covid and more and more mass shootings popping up, it’s completely understandable if you’d rather watch a movie from your couch. Especially with movie tickets going for like $20 a pop at this point.
How this all works financially I’m not exactly sure yet. I know the studios held out for as long as they realistically could as they pushed the premiere dates of movies like Wonder Woman, which would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in normal times. As Papa Giorgio pointed out, WB actually owns HBO Max so they’re essentially using this as an incentive to bring in new subscribers. I guarantee you they get more subscribers than they would have before when the biggest benefit to having HBO Max was being able to watch Fresh Prince re-runs and the upcoming Justice League Directors Cut. Both things I will watch, but not something the typical consumer is throwing their credit card at you for.
Now we’ll be able to watch Dune, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, Space Jam and all kinds of stuff right from home. Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert, but that sounds amazing to me.
It is a risky strategy because all of these movies will come “at no extra cost” (until they raise the price like Netflix does twice a year). So I don’t know if they just got past a point where it’s more economical to just stream it and try to recoup some money through subscriptions rather than hold out hope, push release dates even further, and possibly lose incredibly valuable buzz. I mean Papa Giorgio and I joke all the time how we would’ve paid like $75 bucks just to watch Tenet on streaming because we weren’t about to go to a theater. But for now this is an incredible shift in the typical way of doing business.
It remains to be seen if any other major studios follow suit, but I wouldn’t recommend investing in movie theater chains any time soon.