In a startling turn of events, Warner Bros announced that a slate of its new movies – including Wonder Woman 1984 – will be released simultaneously in cinemas and on demand. But what does that mean for Brits?
The traditional release schedule dictates that films are first released in cinemas, and only 16 weeks later are they available to watch via home media, such as streaming services, downloads, or physical discs. Despite the modern appetite for streaming, this tradition has held strong until now but as with the working-from-home revolution, it appears that Covid-19 may have irrevocably altered this part of our way of life too.
Warner Bros has announced that all of its 2021 releases will be launched in the cinema and on HBO Max simultaneously, meaning that you could watch films such as Wonder Woman 1984 from your sofa on release day, or at least you can in the United States. As HBO Max is not currently available in the UK, what are our options?
Read this: Netflix isn’t adding a ‘fiction disclaimer’ to The Crown
Not all the details have been officially confirmed, but according to industry insiders Screen Daily, Wonder Woman is set for a theatrical debut on December 16, and will be speedily available on VoD (likely via Sky) 28 days after that; shorter than the normal incubation time of 16 weeks. However, the release pattern of other films from the studio is not yet clear and that includes the following highly anticipated releases:
- The Suicide Squad
- Godzilla vs Kong
- The Matrix 4
As for HBO Max, the service itself is “unlikely to launch in the UK for the foreseeable future” due to the US network’s pre-existing exclusivity deal with Sky, according to the Radio Times.
Though the new arrangement of streaming from the very day of release might sound appealing and convenient, it has left many cinephiles in dismay. They argue that films are intended to be seen on the big screen for an all-encompassing experience, and that the move to streaming may spell the end of cinema as we know it, with projection rooms only left for true enthusiasts who are willing to pay over the odds for it.
That certainly seems to be the passionate position of some noteworthy directors such as Christopher Nolan, who insisted on a full theatrical release for Tenet – a momentous decision of which financial ramifications may well have influenced Warner Bros to take this latest action in the first place.
So will the time-honoured romance of ‘going to the pictures’ be replaced for good by ‘Netflix and chill’? Let us know what you think in the poll below.