The announcement that Warner Bros. slate of films from 2021 heading to HBO Max certainly sounded like a gut punch to U.S theaters but the people who made the films aren’t terribly happy either. It sounds like WarnerMedia and AT&T failed to tell production partners and the filmmakers themselves they were planning on making the move to a day-and-date model. Today, there were reports that director Denis Villeneuve is upset that Dune (part one of at least two planned films) will be negatively impacted by the move and Legendary Entertainment may end up suing WarnerMedia if they can’t work something out.
One of WarnerMedia’s biggest assets also isn’t terribly pleased with how they announced the plan either.
Entertainment Tonight was able to speak with director Christopher Nolan about the whole thing and as you’d imagine he has some stern words for the company calling it a “controversy” along with a suggestion that they’re simply doing this to pump-up the new streaming service while mistreating the people who actually worked on the films without even consulting with them.
NOLAN: “Oh, I mean, disbelief. Especially the way in which they did. There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone. In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy. It’s very, very, very, very messy. A real bait and switch. Yeah, it’s sort of not how you treat filmmakers and stars and people who, these guys have given a lot for these projects. They deserved to be consulted and spoken to about what was going to happen to their work.”
“Long-term, I think all of the studios know that the movie theater experience will bounce back and be a very important part of the ecosystem long-term. What you have right now in our business is a lot of the use of the pandemic as an excuse for sort of grappling for short-term advantage. And it’s really unfortunate. It’s not the way to do business and it’s not the best thing for the health of our industry. But when the theaters are back and people are going back to the movies, when the vaccine has been rolled out and there’s an appropriate health response from the federal government, I’m very bullish on the long-term prospects of the industry. People love going to the movies and they’re going to get to go again.”
UPDATE: Christopher Nolan had even more choice words when speaking with The Hollywood Reporter.
NOLAN: “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. 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 isn’t without his own bit of controversy as his latest film Tenet had been released in the height of the pandemic over the summer, where there was plenty of finger-pointing when it came to who had the bright idea to keep the theatrical release date in the summer instead postponing. I don’t think it’s lost on Christopher that Tenet could have easily been part of this group of films thrown on HBO Max without having any real discussions beforehand.
SOURCE: ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT