Warner Brothers had bounced around Wonder Woman 1984’s release date a few times before it was set to December 25th. With the surges of Covid-19 cases around the globe and new shutdowns, it seemed the date would be pushed back yet again. Instead, Warner Brothers announced that the date would hold, but that Wonder Woman 1984 would premier simultaneously both in theaters and on HBO Max.
A couple of days ago, Warner Brothers announced they’ll be releasing all of their movies through the end of 2021 on both HBO Max and in theaters on their respective release days. These movies will be available for a month on HBO Max and theaters before they move on to theaters only, then everywhere, including video-on-demand. Friend of the show David Raiklen wrote a great article for Krypton Radio explaining the details about the HBO Max/theatrical/VOD window, which films this includes, and so on. Check out David’s article here.
When I’d first heard that they were simultaneously releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and theaters, I was elated. Here in Southern California, Covid-19 cases are surging out of control and a new government-ordered shutdown is beginning. Even if we wanted to go to a theater to see the movie, we don’t have the option. Now, we can see it!
Vaccines are coming, but they will (and should) go to first responders and vulnerable populations before they go to the rest of us. It might be Spring, or even Summer, before large swaths of the population are vaccinated and things start returning to whatever the new-normal is. And when people do start going to the movies again, there is a huge backlog of blockbusters rescheduled to mid- to late 2021, all vying for everyone’s time and money. Given all this, streaming seems like one of the only real options to be sure that your movies will reach viewers.
On a personal level, this is great for us. We get HBO Max through our AT&T wireless plan. We are not likely to make it out to theaters in 2021, both because of Covid-related shutdowns, and because we have a baby on the way. It doesn’t hurt that we have a very large-screen TV and an enviable Dolby Atmos capable 7.1 surround system.
I think it’s safe to say that a very large chunk of our podcast listeners don’t get HBO Max, considering as of this writing it doesn’t have a fraction of the customers of Netflix, Prime Video, or Disney+. I think it’s also safe to say that AT&T (parent company of Warner Brothers/HBO) is hoping that the lure of blockbuster movies landing every month or so serves as a powerful incentive for people to sign up.
Would I recommend HBO Max if you don’t already have it? For our viewing habits, there’s a lot of things we like on it. We watch a number of HBO series that aren’t in the genre, we both absolutely adored Watchmen and Avenue 5, Golden loved Raised By Wolves, and we’re looking forward to starting Lovecraft Country. Not to mention, HBO Max is the new home of DC Comics shows like Titans, Doom Patrol, and future Green Lantern, Justice League Dark, and other shows. And hell, for some, just being able to stream Game of Thrones is enough! Not to mention, Zack Snyder’s limited series Director’s Edition of Justice League. So even without Warner Brothers debuting movies, HBO Max offers lots of great genre programming. But adding all kinds of killer debut feature films on top of that? For us, that’s a big ‘ol yes. And if you can get it bundled with some other services, all the better (these days, bundling is very popular, but there may or may not be a bundle that works for you).
Of course, AT&T/Warner Brothers has their own, business related reasons for doing this. There’s lots of hand-wringing about this being the death of the movie theaters, if theaters are getting larger percentages to compensate, if even after this pandemic people will want to return to theaters, and so on. I had originally intended to speculate about the business side of things, but ultimately, I’m not a studio or a theater owner or accountant, and I don’t think I’d have anything useful to offer.
My feeling is that going to a movie theater is great fun, and a great experience, especially for huge sci-fi and fantasy movies that are filled with larger-than-life sound and visual effects. People will always love to experience movies that way if they can. The reality, for the near term at least, is that in many parts of the world, theaters won’t be open for a while. That’s not even touching on the economic damage that this pandemic has caused; people who have lost wages may not have the money to see multiple blockbusters a month in theaters, but can afford a single streaming fee that covers numerous films and series.
Ultimately, as a fan and a podcaster, I want to be able to watch great movies that expand universes that I already love and create brand new ones for me to explore. If this helps me get those things, I’ll be happy. I hope AT&T/Warner Brothers is successful. I hope that theaters are able to recover. I hope that we are able to enjoy the theater experience again in the future when it’s safe. I hope that in the long run, competition among streaming services results in more, and higher quality, genre entertainment being created for us to enjoy. And I hope that entertainment is available in all the formats we’d like to experience it.
Published on: December 5, 2020