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Warner Bros. “rethinking” its theatrical release strategies

by Sean P. Aune | April 23, 2020April 23, 2020 8:30 am EDT

The coronavirus pandemic has caused nearly every form of industry to rethink their business models. And possibly one of the most impacted has been the movie industry.

Movie theaters were some of the first businesses to shut down, and now it is being analyzed how soon they can reopen. In the meantime, we have seen studios moving films to immediate digital rentals,  while others went on to sales. The biggest move was Trolls World Tour completely skipping theaters and going digital-only. On Tuesday we saw Warner Bros. announce the same strategy for the upcoming Scoob!

This may be partially due to AT&T – the parent company of Warner Bros. – announce a 4.6% decline in its first quarter. During the earnings call, John Stankey, AT&T chief operating officer, said that some new strategies are going to have to be considered.

“We’re rethinking our theatrical model. We’re accelerating efforts consistent with the rapid changes in consumer behavior from the pandemic,” Stankey said. “We’re focused on finding and leveraging the new normal across all of our operations.”

Stankey did not offer any further details on what the new model might be, but it certainly sets the imagination flying. This caused Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff to make a statement later in the day, saying, “We are committed to — and are excited about — releasing Tenet in theaters this summer or whenever theaters reopen. We remain supportive of the theatrical experience and our exhibition partners, and are confident that our tentpole titles, including Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984, are exactly the type of films that will have people eager to return to theaters.”

Could we be looking at some form of hybrid between theatrical and home viewing? More movies skipping a theatrical run? Only time will tell, but it definitely feels as though the movie industry won’t come out of this pandemic exactly the same as before.



Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing