WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has confirmed that Warner Bros. Pictures is set to produce ten movies next year exclusively for the HBO Max service in an effort to drive subscriber growth.
Talking with analysts on an AT&T earnings call, the studio still very much intends to release tentpoles at cinemas – citing the $462 million box-office of “Godzilla vs. Kong” as showing that some pictures “will continue to matter when it comes to the actual exhibition”.
Even so, shorter windows and day-and-date releases have become the new normal. WarnerMedia is moving back to a 45-day theatrical window for tentpoles starting in 2022, with Kilar advising analysts the industry will not go back to lengthy windows between theatrical and home exhibition.
Andy Forssell, GM of WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer, says that in 2022 “everyone is going to be experimenting with windows, they are going to get shorter, not longer, in terms of being able to see movies sooner.”
Forssell says HBO Max saw great success with its day-and-day Warner Bros. films not just for the movies themselves, but also customer interest retention as films like “Mortal Kombat,” “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” “Those Who Wish Me Dead” and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” led to people sticking to the service and watching episodic content like “Mare of Easttown” and “Hacks” among other shows.
WarnerMedia will go through a transition next year with its planned spinoff from AT&T into a merger with Discovery so their release strategy could well be upended again once CEO David Zaslav takes the reins of the combined company.
HBO is claiming to have 67.5 million subscribers to HBO and HBO Max, with 47 million of those in the United States. HBO is expected the total number to reach 70-73 million by year’s end. As a comparison, the most popular SVOD service, Netflix, has 209 million with 66 million of those in the United States (where it lost 430,000 customers this past quarter).