HBO Max reached some massive subscription numbers in the past few months, and it's likely all thanks to their roster of limited-time new release movies. According to a report from THR, WarnerMedia’s HBO and HBO Max streaming service ended March with 44.2 million subscribers, as well as a combined 63.9 million global subscribers. The domestic number is up from 41.5 million total HBO Max and HBO subscribers as of the end of 2020.
A big portion of the 2.7 million subscriber increase in just three months could probably be attributed largely to WarnerMedia making all 2021 Warner Bros. Pictures releases — such as the Oscar-nominated Judas and the Black Messiah, and the wildly popular Godzilla vs. Kong — available on HBO Max the same day as the film opens in theaters. The films will remain available to subscribers for one month after debuting, at which time they will continue their theatrical run and be made available on their pay-per-view streaming services. Upcoming releases include Mortal Kombat (April 23), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June 4), and Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16).
Mortal Kombat will be available in theaters and on HBO Max in the US only, for 31 days from theatrical release, at no extra cost to subscribers.— HBO Max (@hbomax) April 22, 2021
John Stankey, CEO of AT&T — which owns WarnerMedia, HBO, and HBO Max — issued a comment about the subscriber growth, saying, "We had another strong quarter of postpaid phone net adds, higher gross adds, lower churn and good growth in Mobility EBITDA. We also continue to increase penetration in markets where we offer fiber broadband and we’re moving quickly to deploy more fiber. HBO Max continued to deliver strong subscriber and revenue growth in advance of our international and AVOD launches planned for June."
It seems the plan to release new WB films on HBO Max for a period of time while the films are also in theaters has paid off for the company. The announcement for this plan first came back in December with Ann Sarnoff — Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group — issuing a statement to reveal the news. "We're living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group," she began."
Sarnoff went on to say, "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." Sarnoff concluded, "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."