WarnerMedia CEO regrets rushing into HBO Max & theatrical day-and-date simultaneous release plan

WarnerMedia CEO HBO Max release plan

WarnerMedia made big headlines coming into the new year when they decided to release their entire 2021 release slate day-and-date via streaming on HBO Max and theatrical simultaneously. The decision was made because the COVID-19 situation made theatrical exhibition an uncertainty and WarnerMedia wanted to have their bases covered by giving moviegoers the option of watching their films from the comfort of their own home or at their local movie theater. While they seemed confident in their decision, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has admitted that he believes he rushed into the HBO Max day-and-date simultaneous release strategy.

Via “The Hollywood Reporter“, Kilar spoke to Vox Media’s Code Conference about the overall state and outcome of the strategy. He admitted to believing that the studio may have rushed the decision in order to set up the strategy because they wanted to avoid leaks about the story and to squash any potential debate from individuals about whether the strategy was right or not. The decision was criticized because of its lack of transparency with the creatives behind the films that would be impacted by the choice and Kilar says he wishes that they would have communicated more with those whose movies were to be a part of the deal. That being said, even if he thought the plan was rushed, he thinks the strategy has worked because the studio is in a good position because of it. Here is what he had to say:

“I will be the first one to say, and the responsibility rests on my shoulders, that, in hindsight, we should have taken the better part of a month to have over 170 conversations — which is the number of participants that are in our 2021 film slate. We tried to do that in a compressed period of time, less than a week, because of course there was going to be leaks there was going to be everybody opining on whether we should do this or not do this… We said from the start that we were going to treat every single film as a blockbuster, from an economic perspective, for participants, that we were going to be fair and generous, we were going to do the right thing. The good news is we did, and we worked our tail ends off to do that. And we’re now in a very good situation.”

The release strategy was met with criticism from filmmakers, including Patty Jenkins, Christopher Nolan, and Denis Villeneuve, who believed that it was a disservice to the theatrical experience. Jenkins in particular believed the choice impacted the overall performance of Wonder Woman 1984 and it can be argued that the release pattern has been met with mixed results, at best. Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat did respectable business in theaters and on HBO Max, according to WarnerMedia, but the theatrical runs of films like The Suicide Squad, In The Heights, and most recently, Cry Macho, certainly left money on the table by also going streaming simultaneously with their theatrical debuts. It has put a sharper focus on upcoming high-profile releases from the studio like Dune and The Matrix Resurrections because they are expensive endeavors and the release strategy could make a huge difference in regards to their box office during their theatrical run.

Do YOU think WarnerMedia rushed into its decision to implement this release strategy? Do YOU think they were ultimately successful?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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