The streaming service launched back in May, but couldn’t be streamed through the number one streaming device, Roku, until today. The details of the deal were not disclosed, but the important part of this news is that an agreement has been met.
Be sure to add the HBO MAX channel today and be ready for the first of several theatre releases from Warner Bros. Wonder Woman 1984 is the first to stream for a one month period simultaneously releasing on HBO MAX and in theatres on Christmas Day. The two services made a grand agreement just in the nick of time. Christmas is a little over a week away and without the ability to stream from Roku devices, it would hinder the film’s ratings and sales.
Senior VP of Roku, Scott Rosenberg, stated, “We believe that all entertainment will be streamed, and we are thrilled to partner with HBO Max to bring their incredible library of iconic entertainment brands and blockbuster slate of direct-to-streaming theatrical releases to the Roku households with more than 100 million people that have made Roku the No. 1 TV streaming platform in America.”
Rosenberg also commented on Roku’s relationship with WarnerMedia saying, “Reaching mutually beneficial agreements where Roku grows together with our partners is how we deliver an exceptional user experience at an incredible value for consumers, and we are excited by the opportunity to deepen our longstanding relationship with the team at WarnerMedia.”
The news of Warner Bros. releasing several of their films through HBO MAX has been quite controversial. Chief revenue officer at WarnerMedia, Tony Goncalves, said, “We’re breaking new ground in the months ahead, and we can’t wait to work with our longtime partners at Roku to build on our past successes and bring HBO Max’s best-in-class quality entertainment to Roku’s large and highly engaged audience.”
Hollywood filmmakers have voiced their concerns about the deal between HBO MAX and Warner Bros.
Dennis Villeneuve penned an essay with Variety saying, “Since the dawn of time, humans have deeply needed communal storytelling experiences. Cinema on the big screen is more than a business, it is an art form that brings people together, celebrating humanity, enhancing our empathy for one another — it’s one of the very last artistic, in-person collective experiences we share as human beings.”
Jason Momoa and Josh Brolin, two mega-stars that star in one of the 2021 HBO MAX and Warner Bros. theatre/streaming releases, Dune, took to Instagram sharing quotes from Villeneuve’s essay. Big Hollywood names have also either “Liked” or “Reposted” Momoa’s post such as Dave Bautista, Ryan Reynolds, Jeremy Renner, and Robert Downey Jr.
Christopher Nolan voiced his anger in an interview with Entertainment Tonight saying, “There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone. In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy.”
Nolan is well known for his passion and pride that he puts into his filmmaking. The news comes as a shock to many, especially theatre chains Regal Cinemas and AMC.
Regal Cinemas remains closed until vaccines become available and safe. They shared, “Big movies are made for the big screen and we cannot wait to reopen our cinemas in Q1 in order to offer our customers, as always, the best place to watch a movie.”
AMC Theatres might be suffering the most. They have not only been close to bankruptcy due to the pandemic, but the Warner Bros. deal with HBO MAX could be what shuts their doors for good. The theatre chains warned of its bankruptcy issue with the media several times. “In the absence of additional liquidity, the Company anticipates that existing cash resources will be depleted during January 2021. These challenges have been exacerbated by the announcement by Warner Bros. that its entire studio film slate for 2021 will move to simultaneous release, which may result in other studios adopting a similar strategy.”
Other studios might adopt a similar strategy, which might force theatre chains to become extinct like video stores. The streaming releases were supposed to be temporary. Many films have moved release dates several times. Is this opportunity to raise the value of a theatre ticket emphasizing its prestige and vulnerabilities like that of an endangered species, or is it only a preview of how the future of films will be?
In the meantime, for those unwilling to attend a theatre due to the pandemic, download HBO MAX now on Roku. Wonder Woman 1984 releases Christmas Day. For more news on the lineup of streaming Warner Bros. theatre releases, check the list here.