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Cinema Owners Up In Arms After Foxtel Partner Moves To Stream First Run Movie

Cinema owners are up in arms after Foxtel movie supplier Warner Bros, decided to allow the forthcoming sci-fi movie epic Dune and the Matrix sequel on HBO Max, to be streamed at the same time as their cinema release in the USA.

Following our story last week cinema chain owners around the world have called for urgent talks with Hollywood studios in an effort to stop the studio’s from moving to a streaming model despite many observers claiming the move is inevitable.

If the trial in the USA is successful Foxtel could potentially end up with the rights for Australia a move that could boost both Foxtel and Binge and sales of premium TV’s especially if other Hollywood studio’s follow Warner Bros move.

In the UK Odeon owner giant US cinema chain owner AMC who also owns cinema’s in Australia is in “urgent talks” with Warner Bros who like most cinemas are desperate to rebuild revenues after virus control measures closed cinemas.

The move will enable film fans to watch the forthcoming sci-fi epic Dune and the Matrix sequel on HBO Max at the same time as their cinema release with analysts tipping that millions will take advantage of the opportunity to watch a first run movie in their own home.

The new releases will be available on the US service, which is not yet available in Australia.

HBO Max is set to launch in Europe in the second half of next year, according to its global boss Andy Forssell but it’s not known whether Australia will get a HBO Max streaming service after Warner Bros dumped Stan for Foxtel earlier this year.

The releases are also expected to include Godzilla vs Kong, Mortal Kombat and The Suicide Squad.

Earlier this year, assertive action by AMC successfully curbed a similar screening plan by rival Hollywood studio, Universal.

AMC banned all Universal films after the studio said it would release new movies at home and on the big screen on the same day.

The two firms eventually agreed that Universal films can go to digital services after just 17 days of viewing in cinemas.

At this stage AMC had agreed to allow one film, Wonder Woman 1984, to be shown simultaneously on HBO Max, the streaming service owned by its ultimate parent company AT&T.

AMC boss Adam Aron, said: “These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, Wonder Woman 1984, being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height.”

It accused Warner Bros of subsidising its HBO Max by its move: “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.

“We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.”

“No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do,” said Warner Bro CEO Ms Sarnoff.

“We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theatres in the US will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”

Explaining Warner Bros’ decision, Ms Sarnoff said the “unique one-year plan” would give “moviegoers who may not have access to theatres, or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies, the chance to see our amazing 2021 films”.

“We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”

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