Movie Theaters vs Streaming? Warner Bros’ HBO Max Plan Is a Complete Paradigm Shift

Diane Haithman and Beatrice Verhoeven
·1-min read

The earthquake that shook Hollywood on Thursday — with WarnerMedia announcing that its entire 2021 motion picture slate will be released in theaters and streamed on HBO Max on the same day — signals a paradigm shift likely to be embraced by audiences and film companies on a permanent basis. “The concept of modern-day cinema has been burnt to ashes,” said Eric Schiffer, CEO of The Patriarch Organization a private equity and venture capital firm based in Santa Ana. “It’s been hit with its own form of plague and this is the greatest danger to the big cinematic experience.” Hollywood insiders and industry analysts reacted with a sense of both uncertainty and inevitability. Uncertainty over if and when other studios would follow WarnerMedia’s lead, and inevitability that the digital transformation of entertainment had arrived in a permanent way not yet fully understood. Although Warner said that its hybrid release plan was a one-year experiment responding the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertain state of the exhibition industry and audience behavior, few think that studios and theater chains will revert to the old models for movie releases and 90-day exclusivity windows. As one major studio executive, who declined...

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