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The Theater Kilar: WarnerMedia CEO Explains Why They Are Bringing New Releases to Streaming

Stephanie Sengwe

WarnerMedia’s announcement that they will be releasing their entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max on the same day films hit theaters was earth-shattering. Not only did it spur excitement from fans, but it’s also spawned strong reactions from theatrical distributors who stand to lose a lot if the media giant sees their decision through.

CEO Adam Aron made it quite clear that AMC is not in agreement with WarnerMedia’s intended hybrid model. “Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up,” he said in a statement.

However, while the industry has been rattled by the decision, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar urged everyone to calm down and stated that the decision was pandemic related and not an underhanded effort to boost HBO Max subscribers as Aron alluded.

Kilar told CNBC, “Everyone should take a breather. Let’s let the next six, eight, ten months play out. And then let’s check back in. Certainly this is pandemic-related. That’s why we’re doing it. We haven’t spent one brain cell on what the world looks like in 2022. I learned long ago not to make statements over a year from now.”

Though he insisted that the move came as a necessity because of the pandemic, Kilar admitted that he believes theatrical distribution will remain a key part of the film business in the future. “I have conviction that for the next several decades there will be a very large volume of consumers worldwide that will choose on any given night, especially a Friday or Saturday night, to go out to a theater to be entertained by a great Warner Brothers movie,” he stated.

He doubled down on the statement when speaking to Deadline, saying, “I absolutely believe in the theatrical marketplace…I believe 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 50 years from now, there is going to be a robust theatrical marketplace, and I say that because there are very few things that can compete on a Friday night when you’re going out with someone that you love, to a cinema, and being told a great story on a gigantic screen…”

For the 2021 slate, blockbuster films such as Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune and Matrix 4 will be among those that premiere on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.

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