CEO of WarnerMedia Jason Kilar recently revealed that the studio will produce ten films in 2022 that will stream exclusively on HBO Max. This move will be slightly different than their 2021 strategy that has been relatively successful. Kilar said, "motion pictures matter and will continue to matter," in response to the new strategy. All things considered, the move makes a lot of sense for the studio as streaming has become almost just as important for movies as theater releases.
In 2021, WarnerMedia has been releasing films in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously to great success. Most films like Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, The Conjuring 3, and Space Jam 2 have brought in great box office returns while also being a hit on the streaming service. Clearly, WarnerMedia is banking on HBO Max to continue to succeed even after losing same-day theater releases.
Despite WarnerMedia moving away from the simultaneous HBO Max and theater plan next year, Kilar said that the move helped them form a more cohesive strategy moving forward. He said that he does not see the industry "going back to the way the world was in 2015, 2016 or 2017" when theater releases had at least a 75 day window before hitting the the shelves and streaming services. The company revealed that they plan on instead using a shorter time frame on 45 days before moving it onto HBO Max. Paramount has also planned on doing the same thing - moving their theater releases onto Paramount+ after only 45 days. "Clearly motion pictures matter and will continue to matter. They also matter at home in terms of the response we've gotten," Kilar reiterated. Streaming services are here to stay, but theaters are still an important brand.
Jason Kilar and WarnerMedia made headlines last year (many of which were negative) when they announced their plan to release films in movie theaters on the same day that they release it on HBO Max. Many filmmakers were quick to condemn the idea saying that their films were meant to be seen in theaters. Christopher Nolan for one did everything he could do avoid having his blockbuster movie Tenet released on a streaming service too soon. It still made over $360 million but on a $200 million budget. Kilar's philosophy is that many people will still want to pay extra to see a movie in theaters despite it being available to watch at home. Godzilla vs. Kong proved that emphatically as it grossed $400 million even when U.S. theaters were not yet fully operational.
Only time will tell how this new strategy of ten films a year exclusively on HBO Max will work for WarnerMedia. They have already announced that DC Comics films Batgirl and Blue Beetle will be HBO Max only releases. This is a bold idea considering that superhero films are almost always surefire hits at the box office. Hollywood will "see this industry continue to evolve and innovate in ways that work for not only for consumers and fans but also for our business partners," Kilar said in response to the release strategy. To his credit, 2021 has allowed for both HBO Max and theaters to thrive all things considered. If WarnerMedia's 2022 HBO Max plan succeeds, who knows where Hollywood could go next. This news originated at Variety.