HBO Max made a lot of filmmakers upset—and made a lot of money.
The big bet this year was from Warner Bros., whose parent company AT&T forced the company's hand and made them go day-and-date with all their 2021 releases on HBO Max.
The bet was based on the pandemic driving box office numbers down and the need for them to drive HBO Max subscribers up. At the time, filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve were very upset. And rightfully so, as this decision was made without filmmakers' input and was not about the movies, but about the bottom line.
Still, they made the bet because they were confident in the results. Turns out, they were mostly right.
While we cannot track which filmmakers are likely to avoid WB because of the decision and the possibility of it happening again, what can be tracked is the boom for HBO Max.
That kind of boost in only a year is incredible for them. But not all of this came from just making movies accessible at home.
HBO Max also allows for variable pay structures, with a $10 option supported by ads, and $15, making it attractive for people on a budget. They're also prioritizing shows like a Game of Thrones spinoff and other star-driven ideas that run the gamut from reality to comedy to drama. So this all sounds like it works.
But will it continue to work? HBO Max has shifted movies back to theaters but will have a 45-day wait period. So a movie will come out in theaters, and then 45 days later, be on their app. That should keep people enticed, and with the new Game of Thrones spinoff coming, their numbers should stay strong.
We're going to find out if this is paying off in real-time next year as people get back to theaters and we track how many subscribers HBO Max gets as the year progresses. The streaming war is definitely on, and HBO Max's huge gamble seems to have put them in a good place for continued success.
Let us know what you think in the comments.