Warner Bros. to stream all 2021 films while in theaters

New York (CNN Business)HBO Max will soon have 12.6 million customers, AT&T CEO John Stankey said Tuesday.

AT&T (T) reported in October that HBO Max had amassed 8.6 million activations since its May launch, which means in the six weeks since then it has added about 4 million customers.
Stankey, speaking at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference, also said the number of hours of engagement on HBO Max over the past 30 days has jumped about 36%, a spike he credited to new programming including “The Undoing” and “The Flight Attendant.”

    Stankey’s remarks on Tuesday come the week after Warner Bros. shocked Hollywood with an announcement that it will release its entire 2021 film slate on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters. Warner Bros. is owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which is also the parent company to HBO and CNN.
    The decision upset some Hollywood filmmakers including director Christopher Nolan, who told The Hollywood Reporter this week the studio was “dismantling” the “incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out” and doesn’t “even understand what they’re losing.” Nolan has worked closely with Warner Bros. for nearly two decades with hits like “The Dark Knight” films, “Inception” and “Dunkirk.” But Nolan’s latest film with the studio, “Tenet,” ended up with disappointing box office sales from its summer release.

    Stankey defended the move and acknowledged that the studio made some difficult decisions in response to the pandemic, which has forced many theaters to close.
    “Any time you’re going to change a model, I know it creates a degree of noise, and this is certainly no exception,” Stankey said. “But I think, ultimately, rational parties will step back and look at this and say giving theater owners a predictable release of content over the next several months, that they can plan around and start to work their business around, is a good thing for them.”

      As the future of theatrical experiences is debated, Stankey said Warner Bros. would continue to support theaters and referred to this time as a “transition moment.”
      “As we get out of the COVID dynamic, where we can play our game on content, both theatrical and what we’re doing on scripted, that’s going to be a good thing,” Stankey said. “So this is really what’s under it. It’s to move scale quickly. It’s to give customers choice. It’s to allow the industry to be able to have this transition moment.”
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