KANSAS CITY, Mo — In a strongly worded statement on Thursday, the CEO and president of AMC Entertainment reacted strongly to Warner Brothers’ plans to stream all new movie titles on HBO Max, in addition to theatrical releases, beginning in 2021.
“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up,” Adam Aron said in a statement.
“As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”
The statement from Leawood-based AMC points out that the theater chain had agreed to allow Warner Brothers to stream the upcoming “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max. But news of the entire slate of new Warner movies going to the streaming service shook the entire industry.
Adam Roberts, co-owner of the independent Screenland Armour Theatre in North Kansas City, said the shift to streaming will make a difficult situation harder, but he remained resolute that movie theaters will survive.
“Movies are an escape, and the word escape is key,” Roberts said. “When you’re thinking of leaving your everyday life, sitting on your couch, watching a movie with your phone next to you, that’s not an escape, that’s just passing time, if you will.”
FOX4 film critic Shawn Edwards said Warner’s announcement reflects a business decision that many saw coming for a long time.
“Let’s not be mistaken here: The decision by Warner Brothers to decide to release all of their 2021 titles simultaneously, theatrically and on HBO Max — it’s a streaming play,” Edwards said. “They have to catch up with Netflix.”
Edwards believes the future of movie venues is solid, but he predicted, in the near future, a night at the cinema will be more akin to going to the ballet or a musical.
“For big ticket movies, like a new Marvel movie, people are not going to watch that at home,” he said.