Major theater chains might lower prices on Warner Bros. titles to protest the HBO Max deal. Warner Bros. recently announced that all of their 2021 movies will open in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously. The announcement shocked theaters owners, along with directors and studios, who were left in the dark about the new Warner Bros. release schedule for 2021. Major chains like Regal, AMC, and Cinemark were all on board with the studio releasing Wonder Woman 1984 under this model, due to how crazy the year has been. However, theater chains are definitely not on board with the 2021 hybrid plan.
With the public health crisis still raging, people aren’t going to be visiting the movie theaters. It’s been like this for nearly a year now, and even the biggest chains are struggling to keep their doors open. Many see the HBO Max deal as something that could have a profound and negative effect on the entertainment industry as a whole. In retaliation, AMC Theatres, Cinemark, and Regal are considering a move against Warner Bros. that could hurt their bottom line.
AMC Theatres and Cinemark Theatres have both issued statements saying they will be forced to consider carrying Warner Bros. movies on a title-by-title basis. Inside sources are claiming that the chains are actually thinking one step even further than that. It is believed that some exhibitors are considering bringing prices down to “$3 to $5 for any Warners title and would want to keep 75 percent to 80 percent of the revenue, meaning that the studio would get almost nothing back.” As it stands, many of the big movie theater chains could run out of money by next month, and AMC is putting partial blame on Warner Bros. for their latest announcement.
In addition to hurting movie theater business and jeopardizing thousands of jobs, the Warner Bros. HBO Max release schedule could go on to hurt big budget projects like Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune adaptation. The director has already announced that he is not a fan of the new deal, noting that one particular drawback will see studios making less money and becoming less likely to throw big money at a possible tentpole project. Big screen storytelling could suffer quite a bit if this model becomes the new normal for everybody.
For now, studios like Legendary, are looking into legal action against Warner Bros. for the HBO Max deal. Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve are just two big names who have come forward to announce their disappointment in the deal, along with James Gunn, who has The Suicide Squad on deck for next summer. Warner Bros. has caught a lot of heat for their secretive announcement, though it does not seem to have effected their path moving forward. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to reveal that movie theaters are thinking of retaliating against Warner Bros.