2021 Viewing Guide: What to watch and where to watch it

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Thomas Bruns

The streaming wars have begun, and movie studios are scrambling to establish a successful SVOD service.

This is a confusing time for movie fans. With constant delays and cancellations, it can be hard to keep track of when your favorite upcoming movie or series is coming out. With the movie industry changing at a rapid pace, this article will help you to understand just what is happening in Hollywood.

What will movie theaters look like in 2021?

As COVID-19 cases rise, movie theater profits fall. With releases few and far between, many theaters are resorting to private screening sessions to stay afloat. Some theater chains have said that they will remain closed through 2021. Time Warner recently announced that their 2021 slate will be coming to HBO Max for free, something sure to damage Time Warner’s profits. 

AMC responded to the decision with this statement: 

“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up,” AMC said. “As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.“

As a movie fan, it is unfortunate to see theaters struggling like this. One of the biggest losers of this pandemic is arguably the movie theater industry as they experience profit loss and a growing number of competitors, like streaming services. However, one of the biggest winners, in this case, is the consumer. Read the guide below to learn more about how streaming services will fill the void that theaters have left. 

I polled my peers and found that Netflix reigns supreme among high schoolers. (Infographic by Thomas Bruns)

What is HBO Max and what movies are coming in 2021?

HBO Max went public on May 27, 2020. Up until the past few weeks, their numbers have been underwhelming, but after their recent movie announcements, they have become direct competitors with industry giants Netflix and Disney+. That begs the question:  What movies and shows will be coming to HBO Max this year?

Mortal Kombat” (Apr. 16, 2021)

Based on the famous video game, “Mortal Kombat” is coming to HBO Max this April. It will be a martial arts tournament film starring Jessica McNamee and Joe Taslim. The original “Mortal Kombat” films are considered disappointments, so there is hope that the new movie will change that idea.

The Suicide Squad” (Aug. 6, 2021)

Another DC movie coming is “The Suicide Squad.” The film is a sequel to the 2016 original and will feature Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, Pete Davidson and John Cena, among an ensemble cast. Although little is known about the plot, it is set to follow the group on another mission where their objective will inevitably go wrong. “The Suicide Squad” will be directed by James Gunn, a St. Louis born director, who helmed the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies. 

Dune” (Oct. 1, 2021)

“Dune” is an upcoming Sci-Fi movie starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya. It’s a reboot of the original “Dune” and will follow the same plot. The 1965 “Dune” introduced classic science fiction concepts like desert planets and space worms.The original Dune inspired movies like “Star Wars” and “Beetlejuice”, so it will be interesting to see one of the classic science fiction movies remade in the 20th Century. “Dune” is about Timothée Chalamet’s character, Leto Atreides as he becomes the leader of a Tatooine-esque desert planet.

What shows and movies will be coming to Disney Plus?

Recently, Disney announced many new projects coming to its streaming service, Disney+. We knew a couple of Marvel shows would be added, but there were also many surprises. The most important shows and movies will be highlighted here. 

WandaVision” (Jan. 15, 2021)

Marvel’s “WandaVision” is about Wanda Maximoff and Vision as they live their suburban life through the lens of a sitcom. Each episode will be inspired by classic sitcoms like “I Love Lucy” and “The Brady Bunch.” This different approach to The Avengers will also be contrasted with traditional superhero action sequences, as Wanda and Vision try to figure out what exactly is going on. 

Raya and the Last Dragon” (Mar. 12, 2021)

This animated movie will be about Raya, a warrior who wants to hunt down the last dragon in her home. The film will combine classic princess tropes with a traditional martial arts feel. Star Wars’ Kelly Marie Tran will be playing the titular role. 

The Book of Boba Fett” (Dec. 2021)

The second season of “The Mandalorian” brought back “Star Wars” fan favorite, Boba Fett. The recently revealed show, “The Book of Boba Fett,” will follow the character’s comeback, as he was long thought to be dead after the sixth movie, “Return of the Jedi.” Although the release date is not currently known, Lucasfilm announced that the show will come to Disney+ in December 2021. “The Book of Boba Fett” will show bounty hunter Boba Fett’s rise as the biggest crime lord in the Star Wars galaxy.

What will come to Netflix?

The king of streaming, Netflix, has big plans for 2021. They are making new seasons for most of their biggest series. Despite recent losses, Netflix is still the most popular service and has used its billions of dollars to acquire popular movies and TV shows after losing fan-favorites like “The Office” and “Friends.”

“Stranger Things” (2021)

Although not confirmed to release in 2021, many have suspected that the new season of “Stranger Things” will release this year. Season four will have the return of Hopper, as the group develops a plan to rescue him. This will be the biggest season yet, and the first to leave their hometown of Hawkins.

“Seinfeld” (2021)

The classic sitcom “Seinfeld” will be coming to Netflix. The show, which used to be on Hulu, will be arriving in the later half of 2021. “Seinfeld” follows real-life comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who goes on misadventures with his fictional friends, George Costanza, Elaine Benes and Cozmo Kramer. Seinfeld recently had a new stand-up special on Netflix, which may be why his show will be coming to the streaming service. 

“The Witcher” (2021)

Henry Cavil’s “The Witcher” is one of the top fantasy shows on Netflix. It’s a fantasy series, in the vein of “Game of Thrones” which was based off of “The Witcher” books and video games. The new season will be coming out sometime this year. 

What is the significance of this?

As COVID-19 cases rise, many are turning to streaming services to occupy themselves with movies and TV. The movie industry is rapidly changing and right now, nobody knows what movie theaters will look like by the end of the pandemic. Post-COVID Hollywood will look vastly different than anything we’ve seen before, and whether that is a good thing or bad thing is up to interpretation. While thousands of movie theaters will close, consumers will be able to watch their favorite movies more conveniently. COVID-19 has sparked a revolution in media consumption.