HBO Max and Warner Bros. Deal


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Sarah Larson, Arts and Community Writer

On December 3, Warner Bros. announced that they would be releasing their 2021 lineup of movies both in theaters and digitally with each movie being released digitally the same day they are released in theaters. Some of the movies that will be released this way are, The Matrix 4, Dune, Tom & Jerry, In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and Suicide Squad. The Chair and Ceo of Warner media states that theaters will most likely operate at a reduced capacity throughout 2021 due to Covid which most likely would have had an impact on their box office sales. The Ceo also claims that this will only be a one-year deal for the year of 2021, but this will most likely be a trial for both companies seeing how well this deal works out and for HBO Max to see how many new subscriptions they can get. HBO max also plans to discontinue their free trials, most likely to prevent people from using the free trial to watch the new Wonder Woman when it comes out and then cancel their trial. With the announcement of this deal, they were met with backlash from both theater companies, studios, and others.  

This deal ultimately poses the question, can theaters in the United States Survive this change? As of how the state of things look now, chances for this are low, especially since during this pandemic 45,000 Cineworld employees have lost their jobs and AMC has lost about $900 million and warns that they will run out of cash in January due to this deal between HBO Max and Warner. However, all hope may not be lost for theater companies because this all depends on whether other studios decide to follow Warner 

More backlash comes from studios and execs claiming that they were given little to no warning about this change with some executives texting each other, rightfully upset over the fact that “They didn’t even reach out. And they just assumed we would go along with this.” However, Warner bros. did in fact reach out to talent agencies to work out payment and contract issues that would be a result of this new switch. Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind Dune which is one of these movies in the 2021 lineupis planning to sue Warner Bros. over this decision. The Director’s Guild of America was also upset with this decision claiming that deal is unacceptable.  

The national director of the DGA, Russell Hollander, stated this decision runs “contrary to both the long-standing relationship between the DGA and Warner Bros. and explicit representations made by senior executives to the DGA on this very issue.” they have also requested an immediate meeting with the company. In terms of my personal opinions on the matter, as someone who has worked at a small, locally-owned movie theater in the past I may be a bit biased to say that I’m not a huge fan of this deal but in order to keep everyone in the country safe and healthy, especially when a huge blockbuster is released, I think it might not be such a bad idea. 

Sarah Larson is a Dakota Student Art and Community Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]