Warner Bros. will release its 2023 movies in theaters first
Warner Bros. plans to release all 2021 films simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters appear to be temporary. Variety reports that the studio has confirmed that its Mad Max prequel Furiosa, the animated / live-action hybrid Coyote vs. Acme and a musical version of The Color Purple will hit theaters in 2023 - with no mention of an HBO Max debut. That doesn't rule out streaming plans, but we wouldn't expect to see these titles from home on day one.
The media giant is clearly planning to get back into the familiar pre-pandemic cycle of blockbusters and Christmas premieres. Furiosa first arrives on June 23, 2023 while Coyote vs. Acme is expected a little later on July 21st. The color purple is slated to premiere on December 20th of this year.
Warner's messages aren't subtle - they are signaling to developers and the public that their strategy for 2021 is more a response to the COVID-19 pandemic than a sign of long-term shift. The company was vehemently rejected by Dune director Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan of Tenet against his plan. Villeneuve claimed Warner destroyed the theater on behalf of helping HBO Max. A 2023 movie won't satisfy these creators in the short term, but it could keep them from leaving the studio.
This won't be exciting when you view same-day streaming as an opportunity for the film industry to break away from an old formula and the grip of theater chains. With this in mind, Warner is also somewhat optimistic about the state of the theaters. Many theaters have been at risk or even closed as a result of the pandemic, and even AMC has warned that money could be tight. While it's not surprising if the theater business is rebuilt by 2023, big screen debuts may not be as important as they were before 2020.
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