A hot potato: Last week saw Warner Bros. announce the surprising decision to stream its 2021 releases through HBO Max on the same day they arrive in theaters. While it was certainly welcome news for those who've long preferred home comforts to a packed cinema, theater chains and much of Hollywood were far from happy. The latest big industry player to speak out is director Christopher Nolan, who has blasted HBO Max as the "worst streaming service."
Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Nolan said, "some of our industry's biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service."
Nolan's relationship with Warner Bros. began in 2002 when he directed Insomnia. The company distributed some of the director's most successful projects, including The Dark Knight, Inception, and Interstellar. The pairing also produced Tenet, which got a theater release in September. The film made just $45 million before cinemas were closed again due to Covid-19, losing Warner Bros. up to $100 million.
Last month, Warner Bros. said that Wonder Woman 1984 would hit theaters and HBO Max on the same day, with no extra cost to subscribers. Using the same strategy for its entire 2021 slate means blockbusters such as The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, Mortal Kombat, and Dune will also receive simultaneous theater and streaming releases.
When it moved Wonder Woman 1984 to a dual release, Warner Bros. is reported to have heavily compensated all those involved to offset the money lost by not sticking with a traditional theater-only launch. But those who worked on the 2021 movies won't be getting the same generous deal. The Suicide Squad director James Gunn and Dune's Denis Villeneuve are especially angry at the decision to go with a dual-release, according to reports.
"Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker's work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don't even understand what they're losing. Their decision makes no economic sense and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction, " Nolan added.