When Jason Kilar took leadership of Hulu in 2007, competitors placed large bets that the streaming service would fail. The notion led them even to nickname it Clown Co. But, Kilar had a vision. Shutting out the naysayers, he locked himself and his team in a Santa Monica office and got started on his masterpiece. Kilar was convinced that there was a better way to watch television – and stopping wasn’t an option until his vision was shared with the world. Plus, having two corporate parents, News Corp and NBC Universal, helped heaps.
After taking up leadership on WarnerMedia mid-pandemic last year, Kilar was hell-bent on working his magic again. This time, however, things didn’t go quite as he planned.
Kilar’s New Hollywood
This month was a highly criticized decision by the Warner Bros – 17 new releases scheduled for 2021, including big-budget box-office hits like The Matrix 4 and Dune, in addition to being dropped in theatres, will be available to stream for free on the company’s streaming platform, HBO Max. Sending Hollywood into a frenzy, the move upended decades of rules for how business was conducted in the industry.
From what we know, it looks like no one was informed of these plans before the announcement was made. The decision was met with nothing but criticism by filmmakers, theatre executives, and talent agents alike. The Hollywood Reporter was rigid enough to comment that some of the industry's most significant names in filmmaking and acting went to bed the night before satisfied at working with the most incredible movie studio in Hollywood. Little did they know they would be waking up the following day working for the least popular streaming service.
Warner Media’s decision spiraled from pandemic woes and struggles, in which theatres remained closed for over a year. Now with vaccine distribution at large, stakeholders see no need for such a shift in industry practices.
Many Hurdles to Overcome
Many industry leaders think the move is a one-sided attempt to kickstart the success of Warner Media's streaming service, HBO Max. However, there are many challenges to combat. The platform is more expensive for starters than other streaming services, with little to no “must-see” content. Public confusion at the difference between HBO Now, HBO Go, and HBO Max doesn't make things any easier either. The biggest problem is that HBO Max's subscriber count stands at 12.6 million compared to Netflix's 195 million and Disney+’s 87 million.