The move shows just how much of a long-term effect the coronavirus pandemic has on the entertainment industry.
AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros studio on Thursday announced it will make all of its 2021 films available in theatres and on the HBO Max streaming service starting on the same day, an unprecedented shift in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The movies, which are expected to include Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat, will be available on HBO Max for one month starting on the same day they debut in cinemas, the studio said in a statement.
Other upcoming movies affected include The Suicide Squad, a new version of Dune and a Matrix sequel.
Executives said the strategy would be in place for one year and was a response to the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many theatres to remain closed.
“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group.
“We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theatres in the US will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”
Shares of AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest theatre operator, fell 4 percent to $4.14 in afternoon trading.