HBO Max has been in the news a lot lately, for all the wrong reasons. First, Warner Bros. Discovery has decided to abandon two projects altogetherThe Bat girl movie and cartoon Scooby-Doo, Scoob: Holiday Haunt, despite the fact that both were good in production. Now it seems there is a lot more content we won’t see on HBO Max, at least not when we expected. It appears the decision has been made to delay the release of some theatrical films on the service, including Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.
Warner Bros. was one of the first studios to draw up a new plan for theatrical distribution during the pandemic that would see all films released on HBO Max 45 days after they first appeared in cinemas, following the decision to released day and date schedule WB 2020 on HBO Max. However, this decision was taken under the previous regime at WB, and according to sources at Decision maker, the new bosses decided to handle HBO Max releases on a case-by-case basis. So while some movies may still continue to play 45 days after their release, not all will.
The first victim of this new plan is Elvis starring Austin Butler as the King of Rock and Roll and Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker’s manager. The film was supposed to be released on HBO Max next week under the old plan, but has now been pulled from the schedule. While it has been confirmed that Elvis will arrive on HBO Max at some point, no new release date has been announced.
Needless to say, this is a bummer for anyone who was looking forward to watching it Elvis on HBO Max, and really anyone subscribed to HBO Max because of the expectation that they could fast-track movie releases on the service. At this point, this is one of the selling points of the service.
While it’s potentially understandable why WBD might want to hold back certain movies on HBO Max if they’re successful at the box office, the studio isn’t going to want to cut it by releasing the movie at home any time soon. fact is, most studios followed suit after WB’s move. Universal also handles Peacock releases case by case, but Disney has released everything from Lightyear to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnesswhich grossed nearly $1 billion worldwideright around that 45 day window.
Clearly, a lot is changing at Warner Bros. under new management and it will be some time before the dust settles and we have a good handle on how things will look next both theatrically and in the flow of things. Maybe it’ll just be the rare movie that takes more than 45 days to hit HBO Max, or maybe most of them will be delayed now. If movies make more in theaters and on VOD/Blu-ray by doing this, and the loss in HBO Max subscriptions is minimal, then it looks like what seemed like the “new normal” might just go back to the way it used to be.
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