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“What we have learned is that motion pictures continue to matter, we believe they are going to matter for decades to come, and we are proudly investing in them,” WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said on Thursday during AT&T’s third-quarter earnings conference call when asked about lessons from Warner Bros.’ hybrid release strategy this year.
“We have been very much leading and [been] the first over the wall, so to speak,” in rolling out the 2021 slate via streaming service HBO Max and cinemas in a way that is designed to work for consumers and exhibitors, Kilar argued.
For 2022, Warner Bros. had promised exclusive releases of tentpole films at theaters, but will also produce 10 movies exclusively for HBO Max to drive subscriber growth at the streamer. “In terms of the road forward, we have committed to 2022, and that’s the visibility we have, to a combination of two things,” Kilar said.
Kilar on Thursday also lauded the early momentum of HBO Max’s advertising-supported version and expressed excitement about its outlook. He also noted that the AVOD version will have “full content parity” with HBO Max without ads. But movie releases, such as Dune and The Matrix Resurrections, will not be available on it.
At the end of 2020, WarnerMedia had sent shock waves through Hollywood by unveiling a hybrid release strategy for its 2021 slate, making films available on HBO Max for the first 30 days that they are also available in theaters.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar recently admitted that he rushed the communication of his decision to place the Warner slate on HBO Max and should have taken “the better part of a month” to speak with the many individuals and partners impacted by the day-and-date shift.
“In hindsight, we should have taken the better part of a month to have over 170 conversations — which is the number of participants that are in our 2021 film slate,” Kilar told Vox Media’s Code Conference in late September. “We tried to do that in a compressed period of time, less than a week, because of course there was going to be leaks there was going to be everybody opining on whether we should do this or not do this.”
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