HBO Max subscribers have had the benefit of streaming The Batman and other Warner Bros. blockbusters just 45 days after their theatrical debuts, but that perk appears to be coming to an end, at least on some level.
As reported by IndieWire, Elvis, a musical drama centered on the rock-and-roll legend that premiered theatrically on June 24 in the U.S., “will be released on PVOD ($19.99 to rent for 48 hours, $24.99 to purchase) on Tuesday, August 9,” but it won’t be available to stream via HBO Max on that date—something that would imply Warner Bros. movies are no longer guaranteed to arrive on the service at the end of their 45-day theatrical window.
Baz Luhrmann, who directed Elvis, had already hinted that his new movie wouldn’t reach HBO Max until “fall,” and while Warner Bros. Discovery never confirmed that, IndieWire’s new report would suggest that he was being serious. Sources with Decider have also backed IndieWire’s claims, stating that “the HBO Max release of theatrical films moving forward would be determined on a case-by-case basis, rather than the strict 45-day window.”
There are probably several reasons as to why Warner Bros. Discovery is shifting to a new strategy, with one of the primary ones relating to the profits that can be had in the PVOD stage, per IndieWire.
PVOD provides a immediate financial return, with the studio retaining 80 percent of the revenue after a small carrier-cost deduction: Each rental transaction brings a quick $14. Multiply that by 1 million views and WBD takes in $14 million. Because the rental costs about the equivalent of two theater tickets, the industry has landed on a conventional wisdom: PVOD has a smaller impact on theaters smaller impact than streaming, where a viewer can watch a film for nothing more than the monthly subscription fee.
This is the latest in a series of blows that HBO Max subscribers have received over the past couple of days. One of the major ones is the cancellation of major projects, such as Batgirl, which Warner Bros. Discovery decided to shelve despite the film being largely finished. Sources with the New York Post have pegged its production costs to be more than $100 million.