A few weeks ago, HBO NOW became HBO Max. When the switch happened, subscribers could access hundreds of new movies and shows, including fare from Studio Ghibli, the Looney Tunes library, Adult Swim, and many more. They could watch Turner Classics, including several Hitchcock movies, and also “Gone with the Wind,” “East of Eden,” and many more from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
That’s exciting for those willing to pay the subscriber fee, but that’s far from all that’s happening with HBO Max this year. With the pandemic continuing, and vaccines likely to be in short supply for the next several months, Warner Brothers agreed to release their entire new movie slate through HBO Max throughout 2021.
Let’s take a few moments to talk about what that means, and we’ll also go over some of the studio’s most anticipated films.
This Further Incentivizes HBO Max
HBO Max was already pretty popular, even when it was HBO NOW. Part of the reason is that it’s so easy to set up and install.
You don’t need to know about DDI for hybrid models or anything particularly technical to download the app and use it. If you have a recent-generation Roku or certain other streaming devices, you can plug it into your TV, get the HBO Max app, and have access to a nearly unimaginable content library.
HBO Max charges $14.99 per month, which is slightly more expensive than a Netflix standard plan. It’s pricier than a Disney Plus subscription and the cheapest Hulu option.
However, you would have to think that the price point makes HBO Max competitive, and that was before Warner Brothers announced all the new movie releases. At the moment, there’s a dazzling number of potential binge-watching choices, and at $14.99, some people are more than willing to pay for not only HBO Max but additional streaming services too. It’s still cheaper than the most modestly-priced cable option.
How Do the Actors Feel About Warner Brothers’ Decision?
Some actors aren’t exactly happy about Warner Brothers deciding to release all those movies via a streaming service this year. They want the studio to wait until movie theaters reopen. Some of them want a piece of the box office if that’s how they structured their contracts.
However, this is impractical. It could easily be several months or more till we see all the theaters open up again. In the meantime, the studio is moving on to the next projects on their schedule. If they don’t release the ones they’ve already shot, there will be an enormous backlog when 2022 rolls around.
The actors are not in charge of the studio’s decision, though. This means that home-streamers who pay for HBO Now will get first-run movie access throughout the year, and none of them seem to be complaining about it.
The Most Anticipated Movies
There are several huge Warner Brother properties that the studio made into movies in the past year, and they’re lining them all up throughout 2021. They’ll start a little later in January with “The Little Things,” a crime thriller starring Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, and Rami Malek, an Oscar-winning trio.
There’s some buzz around that one, but it’s nothing compared to some later 2021 releases. Many action movie fans eagerly anticipate the Mortal Kombat reboot. There were two Mortal Kombat movies that came out in the 90s, but the critics hated them. However, some moviegoers regarded the first one as a campy classic, and the reboot has them excited.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is another huge feature film that could have done big box office numbers were it not for the pandemic. The studio released films reintroducing both monsters over the past few years, and they did reasonably well. This is undoubtedly a movie that would benefit from a big-screen release, but it’s not to be.
Musical fans are happy about “In the Heights,” based on the Lin-Manuel Miranda Broadway smash. Then there’s the James Gunn-directed “The Suicide Squad,” which could revive a recently-faltering franchise. The sci-fi epic “Dune” is another massive addition to the Warner Brothers lineup, but it doesn’t drop until October.
What will be fascinating to observe is whether HBO Now sales will spike because of the Warner Brother’s movie infusion or whether they will hold steady. That might inform whether the studio will ever do something like this again, even once the pandemic is over. We might be seeing the start of a trend, or perhaps just a one-time anomaly.