Industry watchers say Warner Bros. walks away from a company they’re ambivalent about to become something everyone has agreed upon is the future and the only future studios can have, even if it costs them a ton of money.
Photo: Clay Enos / Warner Bros.
Earlier this week, a pair of disparate but not unrelated developments ultimately and fundamentally reshaped the way people will see or more specifically, habit see the movies for the rest of 2020. On Monday, WarnerMedia announced a reluctant peace deal with rival Amazon that will finally allow Burbank’s fledgling OTT platform, HBO Max, to stream to Amazon Fire TV devices. And two days later, WarnerMedias studios division Warner Bros. announced that its summer tentpole repeatedly delayed Wonder Woman 1984 would arrive on HBO Max on Christmas Day (and in international theaters earlier this month), in yet another experimental reversal of how Hollywood rolls out its most important titles in the mask-era era.
As a proper coda for the summer without blockbusters, Warners decided to push nationwide WW84 Straight to Streaming toppled the latest four-quadrant mega-budget that will please the crowd on this year’s theatrical schedule, with the only $ 200 million budgeted soldier left standing on a battered movie battlefield where d ” other suspected blockbusters, including Dune, no time to die, and Black Widow recently declined in 2021 (when a coronavirus vaccine is expected to be widely implemented). But arriving just weeks after Warner Bros. failed to launch its previous $ 200 million blockbuster popcorn thriller. Principle towards profitability, the move had far-reaching implications.
Wonder Woman 1984 joins Disneys Mulan as the second nine-figure event movie to bypass North American theaters, heading straight for the living room (or what Hollywood euphemistically calls direct to mainstream distribution), compounding the already perilous situation for major movie theater chains continent, which is teetering on the brink of financial insolvency. And the national release of digital-first films which, in particular, does not fall under the premium umbrella of video on demand and which would not cost subscribers dearly, can be considered as the clearest indication to date of a comprehensive strategy of AT&T parent company of WarnerMedias. to run its movie streaming offensive via HBO Max, which so far has been beaten in the streaming wars due to access limitations.
Warners has this serve floundering in last place and been trying to take off for some time now, says Richard rushfield, editor of the Hollywood Entertainment Industry Insider Newsletter the Ankler. And here’s a chance to pull out a bang, and put something really solid behind it. They expressed real ambivalence about their future in the theatrical world. So moving away from a company they are ambivalent about and becoming something everyone has agreed upon is the future and the only future that studios can have even if it costs them a ton of money, it could make sense to them.
During the months of the pandemic, other studios have had mixed success by releasing films direct to streaming or PVOD. Universal has drawn the ire of the theater owner community by skipping a theatrical release for Troll world tour, which grossed a surprisingly high $ 100 million via premium video on demand, before making an unprecedented deal with AMC Theaters allowing the studio to release its films on video platforms just 17 days after their release. screening in theaters. (On November 17, Universal struck a similar multi-year deal with movie theater chain Cinemark, also narrowing the hitherto mandatory window between theatrical movies and streaming movies.) Since the summer, Disney has done so. carpet with its first digital output. scheme. The House of the Mouse ditched theatrical deployments for the $ 125 million big-screen explosion Artemis Fowl, the film adaptation of the musical Smash by Lin-Manuel Mirandas Hamilton, and Mulan in a concerted effort to attract new Disney + subscribers. But according to the streaming platform analysis firm Antenna, new subscribers only represented about 4% of Mulans PVOD rentals during its online opening weekend.
According to a rival studio executive who spoke to Vulture in the background, the Wonder Woman 1984 the digital hub comes at a suspicious transition point. Over the past week, as the almost inevitable continuation of a wave of thousand layoffs planned Warner Bros. fostered the departures of Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Gregorian, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Animation and Family Movies Jim Gallagher, and Blair Rich, Head of Global Marketing for Warner Bros., who were in a studio for months because of rumors of his clashes with WB chairman Toby Emmerich swept Hollywood.
Additionally, until recently, the all-new HBO Max (which had less than 9 million subscribers) was not available to consumers on Amazon Fire and Roku, the country’s most popular streaming TV devices. . Like a certain industry observers to have Noted, however, it is no coincidence that the studio made its WW84 announcement so close to the AmazonHBO Now deal, which gives access to a global audience of over 40 million people. Roku, for its part, has 46 million active accounts.
Ultimately, only Hollywood historians will be able to tell whether Warner Bros. played its cards correctly by deploying WW84 directly to streaming. It’s a huge bet, says Rushfield. A blockbuster is what powers the whole studio. Having one or two a year is what fuels everything and creates endless income downstream with toys and rides, cruise ships and bindings and God knows what. This is the whole enchilada. That’s what you’re risking with that. You don’t risk it, you give it away. Let’s go!