HBO Max opts for in home theater experience


   The pandemic has caused so much change in our day to day life. With movie theaters nationwide being closed, many people miss going to the theater. However, HBO Max thinks that it is possible to have that same movie theater experience at home without the added cost of going to the cinema.

   On November 18th, 2020, it was announced that HBO Max would be streaming new releases from Warner Bros., in addition to those films going to theaters that are still open. The first film that followed this new format was Wonder Woman 1984 that streamed on Christmas Day 2020 on HBO Max. 

   “This is an amazing film that really comes to life on the big screen…,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios (Variety). “We realize that a lot of consumers can’t go back to the movies due to the pandemic, so we also want to give them the option to see Wonder Woman 1984 via our HBO Max platform.”

   In addition to Wonder Woman 1984, HBO Max will also be streaming highly anticipated films such as Dune (2021) and The Matrix 4 later this year.

   “As we navigate these unprecedented times, we’ve had to be innovative in keeping our businesses moving forward while continuing to super-serve our fans,” said Sarnoff (Variety).

   While many people love this idea, filmmakers have become furious with HBO Max over this decision. Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve, who is also releasing Dune (2021) with Warner Bros. put HBO Max on blast for the decision.

   “There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here,” said Villeneuve in an op-ed for Variety. “With HBO Max’s launch a failure thus far, AT&T decided to sacrifice Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate in a desperate attempt to grab the audience’s attention. I strongly believe the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says.”

   The move also angered legendary filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who is known for movies such as Inception, Interstellar, and his newest film, Tenet.

   “There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone,” said Nolan in an ET Online interview. “Yeah, it’s sort of not how you treat filmmakers and stars and people who, these guys have given a lot for these projects. They deserved to be consulted and spoken to about what was going to happen to their work. 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… 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.”

   While a lot of people are in agreement that streaming the film on the HBO Max service is for everyone’s safety due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people still are up in arms.

   “Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures,” said the Independent Cinema Alliance (ICA) in a statement (Variety). “Given that COVID-19 vaccines will begin distribution in the coming weeks, the ICA calls on our partners at Warner Bros. and other studios to help write the industry’s comeback story with a recommitment to exclusive theatrical content.”

   Theaters shutting down have even made students at Guilford High School very disappointed. 

   “I would have definitely gone to the theaters and seen this movie,” said Za’Nia Harris, junior. “Though I’m not a huge DC fan, the first Wonder Woman was amazing in my eyes, so not being able to see it in theaters was a big regret. Watching this movie at home rather than in a theater was kind of boring. I do miss going to the theaters because when me and my friends are bored we would just plan to go to the movies… I would rather watch a movie in the theaters because the people there feel like my own community of people who enjoy what I enjoy. So watching a movie at home never will equal watching a movie in the theaters.”