Q. I started watching the new HBO Max movie, Judas and the Black Messiah, this morning on my Roku and I couldn’t tell if it was in 4K or not. Do you know? The picture looks like it is, but it says HD, not 4K, in the description. — Bobby, Toledo, Ohio. 

Bobby, Judas and the Black Messiah debuts today on HBO Max and in movie theaters, the latest major Warner Bros. theatrical release to get the ‘same-day’ treatment. Warner Media, which runs HBO Max, did the same with Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day 2020 and The Little Things last month.

The decision to allow viewers to see the movies without leaving home is designed to pump up HBO Max subscriptions as well as acknowledge that fewer people are willing to venture into theaters these days due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Judas and the Black Messiah, which is based on a real-life story, stars LaKeith Stanfield as Bill O’Neal, an FBI informant who infiltrates the Black Panthers during the 1960s to get incriminatory evidence against the group. However, O’Neal soon regrets his mission when his work triggers a controversial homicide of the organization’s leader, Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya.

I can understand your confusion regarding whether the movie is available in 4K. If you look at the episode description in the HBO Max app on Roku, it says ‘Judas’ is in HD. However, the movie is actually in 4K, and you can learn more about that here. It’s available in both the HDR 10 and Dolby Vision 4K formats, and Dolby Atmos, the latest surround sound technology.

This is the third title that HBO Max has offered in 4K. (Wonder Woman 1984 and The Little Things were the first two.) Jason Kilar, Warner Media’s CEO, said last month that more 4K titles are coming soon, but he has not provided more details.

And as for the Roku ‘HD’ label in the description for Judas and the Black Messiah, that’s a quirk in their system. Roku’s descriptions for Wonder Woman 1984 and The Little Things said they were in HD, too, but both movies were actually available in 4K.

Bobby, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann