Timothee Chalamet Rebecca Ferguson Dune

Dune and others mark Warner Bros’ 2021 release strategy

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The days of blockbuster releases may be over as Warner Bros indicates all 2021 releases (including Dune and The Matrix 4) will release for streaming and cinema simultaneously

We’ve already reported on the dual release of the new Wonder Woman movie to HBO Max and cinemas, and now Warner Bros has extended this to their whole portfolio of 2021 releases. This includes Dune, The Matrix 4, and presumably Godzilla vs Kong, Mortal Kombat and The Suicide Squad. While this is being treated as a short-/medium-term response to Covid-19 restrictions, we expect this to become the norm over the next few years.

When historians write about the impact of 2020 on society, it’s likely they will identify how it accelerated changes already underway, as well as exposing many shortcomings in the way we’ve run society to date. The high street (in the UK at least) was already suffering from lack of footfall and the threat of online shopping, and lockdown has moved a large percentage of this market further online. Similarly cinema had a period of reinvention in the 1980s and ’90s before finding a formula that worked. No audience means no ice cream or popcorn sales, and for the filmmakers no massive first weekend box office takings. It’s not clear to us how this will fully recover, and there will always be some place for the trip to see a film on a (very) large screen. With more and more people investing in larger and better home TVs, the attraction of the cinema becomes less and less.

If films can no longer rely on an early spike of sales, but long term streaming income, something will need to change. Netlflix has a one-size model — once you subscribe you get everything, where platforms such as Amazon Prime mix this with the shop front for newer or more niche titles. The evolution of the market place will be fascinating.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to see a trailer for the new Dune film, starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac and many more, it’s available here.