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Warner Bros. Ditches Theatrical Release Window Entirely For 2021

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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) — While a recent deal between Universal and major cinema chains dramatically shortened the theatrical exclusive window for new movies, Warner Bros. on Thursday took the dramatic step of smashing the window completely.

In an announcement on Thursday, Warner Bros. revealed that their entire slate of 17 films for 2021 will go live in its HBO Max streaming service on the same day they are released to U.S. theaters.

The list of movies includes potential blockbusters such as The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, The Many Saints of Newark, Dune, Space Jam: A New Legacy, and Wonder Woman 1984, which had previously been announced as direct to streaming.

The first-run movies will be available on HBO Max at no additional charge for subscribers and will be available for one month, starting on the same day as their theatrical release.

“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios, said in a statement.

“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021,” Sarnoff added.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner’s decision to cut the release window entirely for 2021 may have been an expensive decision. Sources told THR that Warner has already cut a new deal for the release of Wonder Woman 1984 that will see exhibitors receiving a much larger portion of ticket sales than normal.

Sources also told the publication that the decision to take additional Warner titles direct to streaming took exhibitors by surprise and may make it more expensive for Warner to get its future movies show in theaters.

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