'RIP cinema': US Movie-goers stunned as Warner Bros pledges to release entire 2021 slate on HBO Max streaming service

Warner Brothers has announced its entire 2021 movie release schedule - including highly-anticipated films such as Matrix 4 and Dune - will be released on US streaming service HBO Max at the same time as cinemas. 

The news comes after the movie studio confirmed Wonder Woman 1984 would be released for HBO Max subscribers this Christmas, as well as coming out in any theatres that are able to be open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While Warner Bros has insisted this new model of simultaneous streaming and cinematic releases is a "unique one-year plan", many film fans are taking the announcement as a sign of the impending death of cinema. 

Other films set to be released to HBO Max subscribers at no extra cost include The Suicide Squad, Godzilla vs King Kong, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Denzel Washington's thriller The Little Things and The Sopranos prequel flick The Many Saints of Newark

Despite Warner Bros claims the initiative is not expected to continue into 2022 or beyond, social media users feared the move would be the final nail in the coffin for movie theatres already teetering on the brink of extension due to coronavirus. 

"This will never end. People won't want to go back," one Twitter user wrote, while another's grim prediction read simply: "RIP cinema."

"They need to have a one year plan to funnel some money to theaters. I don’t know how they expect them to be able to stay open after this," offered a third. 

It wasn't all doom and gloom, however, with some commentators calling the move "a win" for filmmaking. 

"Might be a small loss for theaters but this seems like a win either way. There are so many movies that aren’t meant for theaters, reserve the theaters for movies that demand that experience. Hopefully this means better movies too," one tweet read. 

In New Zealand, where HBO Max is not available, movies are expected to continue to cinematic releases as normal - providing theatres are not impacted by any COVID-19 alert level restrictions.