A few early thoughts after the Canadian TV networks' 2021-22 schedule announcements.
Judas and the Black Messiah, the critically acclaimed biographical drama about the assassination of Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton, directed and co-written by Shaka King and starring Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield, was released by Warner Bros. Pictures in theatres in the United States and Canada on Friday, February 12, 2021.
In Canada, Warner Bros. announced a few weeks prior to the release that the film would be available both in theatres (where open), and on premium video on demand (PVOD) digital rental, the latter for an initial suggested retail price of $24.99.
According to this Warner Bros. webpage, Judas and the Black Messiah should be available to rent through the following retailers / providers (direct links provided where available):
- Amazon Prime Video Store
- Apple TV / iTunes Store
- Cineplex Store
- Google Play Movies & TV
- Microsoft Movies & TV
- Sony PlayStation Video
- YouTube Movies
- TV service provider video-on-demand services (on your set-top box), via providers including Bell, Rogers, Cogeco, SaskTel, Shaw, Telus, and Vidéotron
For those who may not have encountered it before, PVOD, also known by names like "premium rental" or "Home Premiere", is a relatively new development that allows consumers to watch new-release movies from home at the same time as they're released in theatres, at least while most Canadian cinemas are closed due to the pandemic. Because it's only possible to charge per household, not per viewer / seat, the rental prices are set quite high to start (comparable to two adult movie tickets). In most cases, they've come down to "regular" VOD prices within a few months.
Note: In the interests of expediency, most of this post is taken essentially verbatim from our recent post about The Little Things. The details are almost exactly the same, except for the release date being two weeks later.
I'm seeing ads promoting it on HBO Max. Can't I watch it now there, or on Crave in Canada?
In the U.S., the film is part of Warner Bros.' "hybrid distribution model" for late 2020 and 2021 releases which began with Wonder Woman 1984, in which WB theatrical films will have a day-and-date release on co-owned streaming service HBO Max, and will be available for streaming for no extra charge to subscribers on that service for 31 days after release.
However, this streaming release does not apply in Canada, or in most of the rest of the world for that matter, where HBO Max is not available.
International services that are otherwise closely related to HBO Max, including Crave in Canada, and even other HBO-branded services in Latin America and Europe, have not been given any similar access to these films either, as discussed at length in our recent post about Wonder Woman 1984.
Will "Judas and the Black Messiah" be available on a subscription streaming service in Canada?
Yes, but probably not for at least several months after the theatrical / PVOD release.
As a Warner Bros. release, Judas and the Black Messiah will be covered by a "pay-1" output deal that sends the studio's first-run films to Crave (with Movies + HBO, i.e. the version of Crave that costs about $20 per month). These films are typically made available to Crave about 8-10 months after theatrical release (i.e., in October or November 2021). However, given that WW84 is being released on Crave in late May – five months after release – we now believe there's a strong possibility of a similar release pattern for Judas, potentially as soon as July 2021.
Under a similar secondary output deal, it would likely then move to Netflix Canada after about 16 months of availability on Crave, i.e. likely in late 2022 or early 2023.
We've provided more details explanations on how this process – sometimes called "windowing" – works, on some of our other recent articles like our piece on The Witches.
But to reiterate, as discussed above, while Crave's owner Bell Media has several agreements with WarnerMedia covering HBO Max and Warner Bros. programming rights in Canada, they do not currently give Crave the same kinds of day-and-date streaming rights to Warner Bros. theatrical releases as HBO Max has.
- April 18, 2021 – Noted possibility of an earlier streaming release on Crave, based on the scheduling for WW84.
- February 11-12, 2021 – added direct links to digital retailers where possible.