Warner Bros. Signals Return to Traditional Theatrical Release Model in 2023 with Mad Max: Fury Road Prequel, Furiosa

Image: Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.’ 2021 film releases will be available to stream on HBO Max the very same day they debut in theaters next year, but that innovative, hybrid distribution model is certainly beginning to look like a temporary one. The studio announced yesterday that Furiosa, the prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as Coyote vs. Acme and The Color Purple, are scheduled to hit theaters in 2023 on June 23, July 21, and December 20, respectively.

While the announcement does not rule out simultaneous releases on HBO Max, the implication here is that Warner Bros. believes that the theater industry will be up and running normally by then, which would negate the need for day-and-date releases via streaming channels. The renewed focus on theatrical distribution also suggests that Warner Bros. is taking all of the criticism and legal threats that have been levied against WarnerMedia and AT&T’s controversial day-one streaming plans to heart.

Time will tell whether Warner Bros. decides to extend its hybrid distribution model into 2022, but in the meantime, Mad Max: Fury Road fans can rest assured that George Miller is hard at work on a follow up to his apocalyptic car epic from 2015. The next chapter will not revolve around the titular character made famous by Mel Gibson, however, as it’ll trace the origins of Charlize Theron’s one-armed war captain, Imperator Furiosa, instead. The Witch and Glass actress Anya Taylor-Joy will be playing her younger counterpart alongside Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Extraction) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman).

Original Press Release

Warner Bros. Pictures announced the release dates for three upcoming theatrical titles: “Furiosa,” “Coyote vs. Acme” and “The Color Purple” musical feature. Each film is scheduled to hit theaters worldwide in 2023. The announcement was made today by Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Up first in the lineup will be writer/director/producer George Miller’s “Furiosa,” a prequel to his hit “Mad Max: Fury Road” that introduced the wildly popular character. Set for June 23, 2023, it will star Anya Taylor-Joy in the title role, alongside Chris Hemsworth and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Miller penned the script and produces alongside his longtime partner, Oscar-nominated producer Doug Mitchell (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Babe”).

Also that summer, Warner Animation Group (WAG) delivers the live-action/animated hybrid “Coyote vs. Acme,” racing into theaters on July 21, 2023. From director Dave Green (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”), it will feature the age-old rivalry between the Roadrunner nemesis and his preferred mail order supplier. The screenplay is from James Gunn, Jeremy Slater, Jon Silberman and Josh Silberman and Samy Burch, based on the Wile E. Coyote character and fictitious Acme corporation from the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, and the fictional New Yorker magazine article entitled “Coyote v. Acme,” written by Ian Frazier. Chris DeFaria and James Gunn will produce, the latter under his Two Monkeys, A Goat and Another, Dead, Monkey production banner.

“The Color Purple” musical feature comes to theaters around the globe on December 20, 2023. Based on the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, the film will be directed by Blitz Bazawule (“Black is King,” “The Burial of Kojo,” “Cherish the Day”), and produced by Oprah Winfrey under her Harpo Films production banner, Steven Spielberg under his Amblin Entertainment production banner, Scott Sanders and Quincy Jones. The executive producers are Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Mara Jacobs, Carla Gardini, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Adam Fell. The script is by Marcus Gardley (“The Chi”), with a score including music and lyrics from the stage musical by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray. Both the new film itself and Gardley’s script are based on Alice Walker’s book, the 1985 Warner Bros. Pictures film and the stage musical.

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