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Independent Cinema Alliance Disappointed With Warner Bros.’ HBO Max Deal, Calls for ‘Theatrical Exclusivity’

HBO Max
Daniel Krasoń - stock.adobe.com

The Independent Cinema Alliance has expressed disappointment over Warner Bros.’ decision to release the rest of its 2021 film state simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.

In a statement released Monday, the volunteer alliance called for a return to theatrical exclusivity, writing that releasing movies solely in theaters for a period of time is “what drives that value – not streaming.” ICA pointed out that with the COVID-19 vaccine set to be distributed soon, a “recommitment to exclusive theatrical content” is imperative.

They also emphasized the importance of supporting independent theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they “will bring the magic of moviegoing to communities across America” while employing the latest health and safety protocols. Above all, ICA delivered a message that movie theaters are essential to a successful film industry.

Read ICA’s full statement below.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. The Independent Cinema Alliance, however, is disappointed in WarnerMedia’s questionable decision to release its entire 2021 film slate simultaneously in movie theaters and on HBO Max. WarnerMedia is correct that its content is extremely valuable, but it also must know that theatrical exclusivity is what drives that value—not streaming. Given that COVID-19 vaccines will begin distribution in the coming weeks, the ICA calls on our partners at Warner Bros. and other studios to help write the industry’s comeback story with a recommitment to exclusive theatrical content.

The ICA welcomes short-term, innovative film distribution models developed to bridge the coronavirus pandemic. It is important that our studio partners support independent exhibitors during this crisis with new theatrical releases backed by robust marketing campaigns. For our part, exhibitors will bring the magic of moviegoing to communities across America while implementing expert-backed, industry-specific health and safety protocols.

But let’s be very clear, it is essential to the success of the entire motion picture ecosystem that hybrid distribution models influenced by the pandemic properly reflect appropriate terms for movie theater owners. It is also imperative that these reactionary policies made in response to a public health crisis do not reflect long-term, formal shifts in distribution strategies for studio films. A theatrically driven business model is vital to the success of movie theater owners, studios, and the creative community. The ICA looks forward to collaborating with our partners in Hollywood on deliberate, innovative solutions that build a brighter future for this great industry.”