The Conjuring 3 and 2021 Warner Bros movie slate to release concurrently in theaters and on HBO Max
Warner Bros.’ decision has proven once again the staggering impact COVID-19 has had on the entertainment industry. It’s a vicious circle, really; with reduced capacity, theaters and studios are not getting the patron count they need to survive, and theaters are hurt even more by the onslaught of VOD releases that have happened as a result.
While a few theatrical releases, such as Tenat and Freaky have trickled out, more and more film release dates were being pushed back, so the decision to release Wonder Woman 1984 on both HBO Max and in theaters was not a huge surprise. But, Warner Bros. upped the ante (and the shock value) by announcing that all of its 2021 films would be given the simultaneous release treatment.
The plan is for the films to show on big screens while also streaming on HBO Max for the first month of their releases, then to stay in theaters for an undetermined amount of time thereafter. The question is: Will people be willing to return to theaters under these circumstances, or will they just choose to watch from home instead?
Many of these films were expected to be blockbusters, among them Godzilla vs. Kong, James Wan’s horror movie Malignant and The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. The third installment in The Conjuring series of films was originally set to hit theaters in September of this year, but theaters were either closed entirely or operating at lower capacity. Add to that the fear of contracting COVID-19 by being in a large group of people, and it was a recipe for really low numbers. Warner Bros. announced that the film would instead be released in June of 2021.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It stars Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor and young Julian Hilliard, and was expected to be a big money-maker for Warner Bros., just as the first two films were.
Theater chains have had strong reactions to the announcement, with AMC issuing a fairly harsh statement. CEO Adam Aron said:
"“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max startup.” He also stated that AMC plans to have discussions with Warner Bros. on the matter."
Whatever the ultimate outcome, theater chains, which are already hurting or even closed temporarily, are certain that allowing people to view movies from home is going to affect their bottom line. And those of us who love seeing films on a big screen have an important decision to make.
Will you be watching Warner Bros. 2021 films in a theater, or from the comfort of your couch? Let us know in the comments section.