HBO Max Same-Day Release Experiment – Success or Mistake?

This article just came out that points to it being a success, but what is your opinion?

I personally think they left a ton of box office $$ sitting on the table by not having the movie release occur in advance of the HBO Max premiere. But so much of movie profitability right now is a mystery. For example, Wonder Woman 1984 was at the top of the online-purchase chart with around six weeks. How much ground does that make up on the lackluster box office? We don’t know - we just have to guess. But my guess is the 2021 strategy isn’t viewed internally as a win.


Whether or not it was the most profitable decision, it was the best decision. No movie is worth the consequences of filling large rooms full of unvaccinated people in the middle of a pandemic. (I know that fans of Salomé will insist that it was worth braving the flu pandemic in October of 1918, but I’m not convinced!)


To me, as a consumer, it was a success. I saw more movies than I would have otherwise this year. I wouldn’t have gone to the theaters to see certain movies due to Covid and everything else, but I was able to stream them on my TV. It was a huge success for me.

Plus, I watched movies I wouldn’t have seen anyways. So, HBO got me to watch movies I would never have paid movie tickets to go see, but instead I just watched randomly at home. I know it probably won’t, but I hope this continues in some capacity in the coming years. It was really nice.


I think it was a huge success. You sell one movie ticket for $15 and that’s it but get someone to subscribe to HBO Max and they pay you $14.99 every month. Even though their whole family sees the movie at home you still get $180 out of that person each year plus viewership into a lot of your other shows and properties.

Personally, I REALLY liked it and wish it would continue.


I’m not the person to ask.

I didn’t watch a movie in a theater, buy a DVD or subscribe to a streaming service in 2021. :grin:


^ the only answer.

Personally, I was able to watch WW84, The Suicide Squad, and Godzilla vs Kong because of the choice they made, and I’ll be forever grateful because of that.


I personally think the signs it was a bad move are numerous:

Wonder Woman 1984 attracted hatred from day one partially because everyone in the US saw it at once - not the normal movie release where the only reaction you’re contemplating is your own. The wave of negativity was such that it negated many positive movie reviews

Warners attracted a lot of subscribors by mid-2021, but then lost scores of them (temporarily?) when they parted ways with Amazon’s platform. So they didn’t really need to offer any incentive until the dust had cleared with Amazon, because it was only after that point they could have confidence they were picking up long-term subscribors.

I enjoyed the free movies, as well, but by the fourth free movie, I was done being excited or making a point to watch it. They had movies coming out too often for the premiere to be regarded as a big event.

Much of this is only clear in hindsight, but looking at the numbers other studios posted, it seems like Warners gave up a lot at the box office this year, and would not have sacrificed many subscribors if they had decided to either a) pick and choose which movies immediately came to HBO Max or b) let theaters have exclusive rights for 1 - 2 weeks before the HBO Max debut.


I sure enjoyed it despite viewing the current era as the dark age of movies.


I’m siding with @Zontarr_of_Pellucidar


It was a success in that it allowed WBP to continue releasing movies and making money off of them in some way (theatrical, as well as subscribers getting HBO Max for certain releases), versus just sitting on them until the pandemic is over, or going the DTV-only route, which most certainly would’ve lost WBP a lot of money.

There’s no doubt money was lost to some extent (as new ventures always endure that in their infancy), but I believe the multi-platform strategy was a success, when keeping current release factors in mind.


Just going to point out that the decision about WW84 was made before the yearlong HBO Max simultaneous release decision was made - because the movie’s release was delayed multiple times already due to the pandemic. Patty Jenkins even said she approved of it for her own movie but didn’t like that it became a longterm policy.

This is an interesting view on the negative response as I have wondered at it when several of my favorite movie reviewers loved it. But it is what it is. The internet can take the most hopeful-toned movie and find something to hate about it, and I think they do that regardless of how it is released.

Either way, I wouldn’t have been able to go to theatres and I still can’t now with omicron and the amount of unvaccinated people around here. Going to the movies used to be one of my favorite things. I was glad to have another option during these insane times.


I’ve been going to the movies a lot less even before the pandemic. Maybe it has to do with hitting my forties and having three children, and maybe it has to do with streaming and in-home viewing technologies taking a big leap of late. HBO Max’s move allowed me to watch movies I wouldn’t have normally watched in theaters (Kong, Dune, Matrix). It’s a win for me, and hopefully my ongoing subscription (along with everyone else’s) means it’s a win for them.


Out of curiosity which ones? I know Nostalgia Critic loved it, but that is the only one I can think of.


30 out of 57 reviewers on Metacritic rated WW84 as above average (though doesn’t answer which ones Angel212 had in mind)


I think there’s pros and cons, but then again, what doesn’t?

With movies being on HBOmax, it allows people more flexibility with movies. Even before the pandemic, lots of people (myself included) might miss a movie in theaters because at the time we couldn’t go. Sometimes its work, sometimes we get busy with other plans, and so sometimes we would have to find a movie in other ways if we miss it in theaters (not like doing that today is hard, but still).

Of course, there are lots of people that still want to keep going out limited, which is their choice and it’s their right to do so. I think those that are itching to get out or really just want that theater experience might be able to do so (at least if their local theater is open). But, if someone wants to rewatch a movie without having to pay for more theater tickets, or of you watch it with a friend, you can easily do it with streaming.

Yes, the results have cost them to not make as much money from the box office as they normally would have… but let’s be real, a lot of businesses have been struggling financially.


Yeah, as a consumer I thought it was great.

If you were a Warner Bros. shareholder, or AMC or some other movie theater chain, then you probably weren’t that crazy about it.

Going forward, I can wait 45 days for things to come to HBO Max.

The Batman is about the only thing that I want to see this year, but not enough to see it in a theater. So I’ll just wait, and I’m not concerned about spoilers one bit. It’s Year Two Batman with Catwoman in it, and Riddler and the Penguin as the villains. So that’s it, there’s nothing to spoil. :blush:

And I guess I’m looking forward to The Batman HBO Max spinoff series more than the movie anyway, so there’s that.

Anyway, all in all, I thought it was a good call for the consumers.


Looking back at this, I shouldn’t have said “several.” I have two reviewers I follow pretty closely and trust to give honest and objective views. Josh Horowitz (MTV critic) is one and Ali Plumb (BBC critic) is the other. Listening to their podcasts made the lack of new movies coming out at the beginning of the pandemic a little more bearable for me. And hearing them both praise WW84 when it released probably influenced my whim to subscribe to HBO Max the week after Christmas last year. Not to say I agree with everything they say - I definitely don’t. I like plenty of movies that they panned and I dislike others that they raved about. It’s just that the way they described it sounded appealing to me. I needed a fun, vibrant, hopeful movie right then, and it had been a long time since I got to see a new big-budget superhero film anyhow.

This is veering off the topic of the post now, but I’ll just add that the movie means a lot to me, and probably means more due to the circumstances of the world when I watched it. It’s the reason I started reading comics. So I have strong feelings about it. :sweat_smile:

But to bring it back to the HBO Max discussion, I guess I am just seeing the benefits from a consumer’s point of view. I’m definitely not a economic expert or a film expert so I’m probably not qualified to judge how it impacted WB. :woman_shrugging:


The article in the original post makes it clear - this was a huge success for HBO Max and Warner Bros.

“For HBO Max, it’s an indication that 2021 saw things trending in the right direction for the service, which most recently reported 45.2 million total subscribers at the end of September”

Correct me if I’m wrong but just getting HBO on cable/satellite doesn’t get you HBO Max so if that’s the case that’s over $677 million that HBO Max makes every month. Bazinga!


Not necessarily true. There’s overlap between the two subscriber bases. From the HBO Max website:

I remember reading somewhere during the earlier days of the app that regular HBO subscribers weren’t downloading the app, though they had access to it. I think it took a while for folks to catch on.


That was us. We got HBOmax for free as part of an upgrade package with AT&T, but since my mom didn’t know what HBOmax was, we never officially set up our account. For 9 months, we would get billed 15 dollars each month on our phone bill and mom would have to call AT&T to get it removed, because we never used it. It got to a point where we started losing the HBO channels on our cable TV, so mom would call, get the channels back, and then a month later when she would call and fuss at AT&T to remove the HBOmax charge, the next day the HBO channels were once again gone.

This went on for months, until one day we were able to get a supervisor on call and we realized that we weren’t getting free HBOmax and that the HBO channels on our TV were in fact related to one another, so while my mom now understands what it is and she doesn’t care for streaming (because we don’t have a smart TV and she doesn’t want to stream on her phone or computer) she had to use the AT&T provider and set up our account just to have the HBO channels, while I use it on my phone.

It was a journey… a very frustrating journey, but needless to say that we felt kinda ridiculous after we found the solution to the problem.