Warner Bros. is using the fallout of the pandemic to completely shake up its release strategy for 2021, with every major title set to receive a simultaneous theatrical and streaming rollout on HBO Max. That’s right — all the studio’s big movies will drop on streaming at the same time they hit the big screen for no additional charge to subscribers.
It’s almost hard to process — and it could have major implications for the future of movies and movie theaters — but for fans, it means the biggest blockbusters of the year will be easier than ever to watch. Films like The Suicide Squad, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Dune will all be landing on streaming in addition to the big screen. The studio is basically taking its Wonder Woman 1984 plan and running with it — and that means we have a whole lot of release dates to plug into our streaming calendar looking ahead to 2021.
So which big genre movies are coming to HBO Max now, and when?
Let’s dig in. Though of course, all release dates are subject to change. It is a pandemic, after all.
Wonder Woman 1984 - Official Main Trailer
Wonder Woman 1984 (Dec. 25, 2020)
What seemed like a one-off at first turned out to be the first shot across the bow for Warner Bros.’ new release strategy. Patty Jenkins’ sequel brings the iconic heroine, played once again by Gal Gadot to the 1980s. Diana's second solo outing also mysteriously brings back Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor from the first movie. Wonder Woman 1984 introduces new players, too, like Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah and Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord, who will be making their live-action DC Universe debuts.
TOM & JERRY - Official Trailer
Tom and Jerry (March 5, 2021)
This live-action/CGI hybrid project brings the iconic cat-and-mouse cartoon to life, with human stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Rob Delaney, and Ken Jeong keeping the narrative rolling. The franchise is one of the longest-running in kid-friendly animation, and it’s been a long time since it had a high profile swing with a big movie. That said, it could be one of the studio’s biggest kid-friendly releases of the year — and the first trailer certainly looks like a lot of fun.
Godzilla vs. Kong (May 21, 2021)
The long-awaited mash-up of these two Legendary monster franchises will be bashing its way onto HBO Max. The Monarch Agency seen in Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters returns here, for a story that looks to finally crash those two major monsters into the same modern story. It’s poised to be the biggest monster movie of the year — and certainly an A-list blockbuster for HBO Max. Directed by Adam Wingard, the film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Jessica Henwick, Julian Dennison, and Kyle Chandler.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June 4, 2021)
One of the hardest-working horror franchises of the modern era is back with a fresh tale of terror. The latest sequel, directed by Michael Chaves and produced by James Wan, reunites Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s spooky investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren for one of their wildest cases yet. Like the other Conjuring films, the latest is based on their real-life investigations, with The Devil Made Me Do It focused on the chilling, 1981 murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson.
Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16, 2021)
It’s a new Space Jam for a new generation. With Michael Jordan now actually retired, modern legend LeBron James is stepping up to help the Looney Tunes win their next major basketball game that will almost certainly have some cartoon world-saving stakes. Lebron, Bugs, and the rest of the gang will be joined by Don Cheadle and Sonequa Martin-Green to round out the rest of the cast. The story reportedly follows LeBron heading into the cartoon world to rescue his son, as it all culminates in a basketball game for the ages. Here’s hoping LeBron kept a bottle of Jordan’s Secret Stuff. You know, just in case.
THE SUICIDE SQUAD – DC FanDome Exclusive Sneak peek
The Suicide Squad (Aug. 6, 2021)
One of the most eagerly anticipated DC films of the next year will be joining its spinoff TV series Peacemaker on HBO Max, as James Gunn’s sequel-of-sorts looks to tell one of the most ambitiously weird superhero stories ever put to film. Basically, it’s a team of D-listers sent on a wild mission where most of them will almost certainly not make it out alive (it is the Suicide Squad after all). The film boasts a loaded ensemble, led by John Cena, Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, Joel Kinnaman, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, and a whole lot more.
Dune Official Trailer
Dune (Oct. 1, 2021)
After being bumped from 2020, this sci-fi epic will finally make its debut in late 2021. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film aims to bring Frank Herbert’s massive tome to life. The space opera chronicles the battle for “spice,” the most valuable thing in the universe. It stars a ton of A-listers, including Jason Momoa, Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, and Javier Bardem. The plan had called for this film to be the first of two telling the story of Dune, though no word yet on if or when we’ll get to see Part 2.
The Matrix 4 (Dec. 22, 2021)
In a lineup of big blockbusters, this is arguably the biggest. The long-awaited sequel in the Matrix franchise brings back original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss for another future-set adventure in the virtual world. Little is known about the plot, though original co-director Lana Wachowski is back in the saddle. Production wrapped in November 2020, so it stands to reason this one should be able to remain on track for its December release slot.
Mortal Kombat (TBD)
For a video game franchise that has dominated pop culture for so many decades, it’s hard to believe Mortal Kombat has only had two low-ish budget films dating back to the 1990s, plus a 2010s web series, to its name. That looks to change next year, when Mortal Kombat is back in action with a new project that… well, still remains pretty mysterious in its own right. The new cast includes Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Tadanobu Asano, Jessica McNamee, Mechad Brooks, and Josh Lawson — with most of them playing iconic roles from the video game series. Little is known about the plot, though we’d assume a martial arts tournament will factor into it somehow.
This one was originally supposed to open in January 2021, but all signs point to that date being delayed, as shooting was stalled due to the pandemic.
This one is James Wan’s new horror flick, and yeah, that’s pretty much all we know. It’s apparently from an original idea, though he hasn’t offered up many details. The cast includes Annabelle Wallis, Jake Abel, George Young, Maddie Hasson, Michole Briana White, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Mckenna Grace.