Warner Bros.’ upcoming DC superhero feature film, Blue Beetle, is headed for a streaming release on HBO Max instead of debuting at the movie theaters. The reason behind it lies in WB’s “Project Popcorn,” which would make the studio’s future releases available on HBO Max and in theaters on the same release date in the U.S. But what lies behind the studio’s radical decision, and what do we know about the upcoming Blue Beetle movie?
According to the LA Times’ cover article regarding the Warner Bros merger with Discovery, WB is currently developing a Blue Beetle solo movie for the DC superhero, with plans to release it exclusively to streaming on HBO Max. And while the studio didn’t officially confirm this information, the movie is currently in its pre-production phase, aiming to start filming in the fall of 2021. If Blue Beetle releases directly on streaming, it will join Batgirl and other HBO Max exclusive DC movies. These will star various fan-favorite characters who will increase the diversity of superhero leads in the DC cinematic universe adaptations.
The last decade’s rise of prominent DC superheroes other than Superman and Batman was wholeheartedly greeted by DC comics fans, marking the beginning of the DC Extended Universe, which brought the cinematic development of a wide range of characters. Most of those movies proved to be a success, at least to a degree. While some fell behind, films like Wonder Woman and Aquaman garnered incredible success, prompting Warner Bros. to shift some of the spotlight onto lesser-known characters like Blue Beetle. Hopefully, the studio will give fans a chance to see their favorite DC comics characters in their movies on the big screen, at least in some capacity in the future.
This decision foro the DC superhero movie and others stems from WB’s risky release strategy, which includes its entire 2021 film lineup, to release directly on streaming, as well as in movie theaters. This was bolstered after Godzilla vs. Kong leveled the box office and brought millions of subscribers to HBO Max, winning on both fronts. The higher-ups at Warner Bros. had long insisted on same-day releases given the ongoing pandemic which shut down cinemas across the United States and most of the world. However, they signaled, from the very start, that direct-to-streaming is a 2021-only solution to the problems brought by the pandemic. Now it seems that they’re changing the strategy.
Warner Bros upped their game for the next year as well, planning to release 10 to 12 titles exclusively to streaming, and as many exclusively for movie theaters for 45 days before their release on HBO Max. This will allow WB access to a broader market, with HBO Max as the first-class direct-to-consumer content delivery, with worldwide theatrical releases. What could this mean for DC superhero movies like Blue Beetle? That largely depends on the surrounding factors, including production, post-production, marketing, and release.
Blue Beetle appeared in several comic book issues and animated series but never in his own feature film. Well, we might see Blue Beetle directly on streaming in the following years, though the DC superhero movie still hasn’t got an official reveal trailer, let alone a release date.