Warner Bros. Clarifies That Executives "Remain Supportive" Of The Theatrical Experience

Warner Bros. sent the theater-going community (or at least the community that keeps up to date with industry news) into a frenzy yesterday when chief operating officer John Stankey told investors that the studio was "rethinking" its theatrical model.

This simple statement seemed to ring the death knell for the theatrical experience as we know it, one that has already been upended by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has shut down theaters across the country and incited studios to release many of their films directly on digital platforms. But WB executives have since clarified that there aren't any intentions to change their theatrical model any time soon and that they "remain supportive of the theatrical experience."

Warner Bros. executives clarified Stankey's statement on the future of the theatrical model late Wednesday, reaffirming that studio is still committed to the cinematic experience, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff and Stankey chimed in on his alarming statement to investors, which had vaguely insinuated that the studio might change its approach to theatrical releases following the success of the early digital release of Birds of Prey and the upcoming straight to VOD release of the formerly theatrical animated feature Scoob! In a statement to THR, Sarnoff confirmed that Warner Bros. remains "supportive of the theatrical experience and our exhibition partners." Sarnoff said in her statement:

"We are committed to — and are excited about — releasing Tenet in theaters this summer or whenever theaters reopen. We remain supportive of the theatrical experience and our exhibition partners, and are confident that our tentpole titles, including Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984, are exactly the type of films that will have people eager to return to theaters.

Stankey also chimed in to clarify his earlier remark that Warner Bros. was "rethinking" its theatrical model, adding in a statement to THR, "Theatrical films have always been a major part of the our ecosystem. I fully expect that as we evaluate our business going forward, we will continue to champion creative work that is worthy of the theatrical experience."

Box office analysts noted to THR that Stankey's remarks could have been taken out of context. As of now, it seems like Warner Bros. is hopeful cinemas will open by the time Tenet hits theaters on July 17 or at least when Wonder Woman 1984 opens on August 14.