WarnerMedia and HBO Max have been in the news a lot lately thanks to its decision to debut WONDER WOMAN 1984 on the service on Christmas day which was then followed by the even bigger news that the studios’ 2021 film slate of seventeen films would also debut on the service on the same day as their theatrical release. This decision is bound to push subscribers to the new streaming service but one key option will be missing at sign-up.
HBO MAX’s free trial period has been quietly discontinued mere weeks before Wonder Woman 1984 makes its Christmas day debut on the service. While the free trial option has been removed, the streaming service is now offering a 20 percent discount if you sign up for six months:
“Total discounted price is $69.99, plus applicable tax. Offer valid from December 3, 2020 to January 15, 2021.”
The move isn’t entirely surprising considering the fact that Wonder Woman 1984 streaming for on HBO Max means a significant chunk of its box office potential has been diminished. The option to watch the film for free reduces profits for the studio but if fans are willing to go all-in and subscribe to HBO Max to watch the movie, Warner will be able to recoup at least some of their losses. The release pattern is certainly unprecedented and they’re likely taking this all day by day because there really is no previous model to work from. Money has to be made and making decisions like doing away with the free trial for HBO Max is just another step to make sure that happens.
Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Network Group, hinted that the situation is becoming increasingly more desperate because it has been hard to predict how the pandemic has really hurt the industry. Warner Bros. tested a theatrical run for Tenet, despite not being able to play the film to its full theatrical potential and it’s a move that backfired a bit at the domestic box office. Tenet has had a pretty good run overseas, grossing $302 million from international markets but its domestic take of $57.6 million doesn’t come close to matching its massive $200 million budget. Sarnoff previously said this about the company’s new distribution strategy:
“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021. With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters 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.”
Do YOU agree with WarnerMedia’s decision to suspend the free trial for HBO MAX?