“The format of the film matters absolutely” – Deadline

Asked on AT & T’s quarterly earnings call this morning about its current view of movie release strategy, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said, “The movie format absolutely matters.

The entertainment unit posted solid numbers in the second quarter, with revenue up 31%, helping the parent company easily beat Wall Street estimates. One key area, the streaming service HBO Max, added 2.8 million subscribers along with regular HBO during the quarter. Together they have 47 million subscribers in the United States

One of the main drivers of subscriptions has been the subject of controversy and dismay in Hollywood: Warner Bros. is releasing its entire 2021 roster on HBO Max as it hits theaters. Over time, the landmark move has seemed less sweeping than it initially seemed, but the ultimate box office and windowing impact is still focusing.

“I certainly don’t see us going back to how the world was in 2015 or ’16 or ’17, where the windows were long enough,” Kilar said. A 45-day theatrical exclusivity is expected for select Warner Bros. titles in 2022, although the studio is also producing at least 10 films which will air day and date on HBO Max and in theaters. “I think what you’re going to see is that this industry continues to evolve and continue to innovate in a way that works not only for consumers and fans, but also for our business partners.”

The company originally planned to produce 8-10 original films per year for HBO Max in an announcement in February 2020, ahead of the pandemic and the day and date shift.

In a separate interview with Deadline after the call for results, executive vice president and general manager of Direct-to-Consumer WarnerMedia Andy Forssell said the feature film presence on HBO Max was a big help in l ‘customer acquisition.

“We’re learning more and more about the interplay of feature films and episodic programming,” Forssell said. “And we get better in marriage and transmission” from one to another. A first example of how the two verticals can combine to benefit the whole came when Wonder Woman 1984 premiered in december. Many new viewers who watched the movie then watched the Max Original series The stewardess.

Production across the industry is still returning to normal levels after widespread Covid-19 shutdowns. This left even dominant players like Netflix with a slimmer programming offering. Forssell said the second quarter saw five Warner Bros. exits, which he said helped offset a depleted playoff supply. The non-cinema standouts of the period included the Friends meeting, Max Original series Hacks and HBO Easttown mare. The “combination of big, heavy films and incredibly compelling series” is only expected to increase in the coming quarters as production ramps up, he said.

HBO Max began to roll out internationally, reaching Latin America in late June. Kilar said he “felt good about the launch,” but declined to give details of how many existing HBO customers have adopted HBO Max.

AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches said on the call that the launch of the streaming service in some European territories would be delayed until 2022, but the company nonetheless raised its subscriber forecast to 70 million to 73 million by the end of 2021. Asked for clarification, Forssell said: “I wouldn’t read too much” the European delays, saying the multi-year outlook remains intact. WarnerMedia predicts 120-150 million subscribers worldwide by 2025.

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