Today hasn’t been a good day for WarnerMedia. This morning news broke about a possible lawsuit that could be coming from Legendary Entertainment stemming from last week’s HBO Max announcement (Warner Bros. 2021 film slate heading to the streamer) and the studio’s golden-child Christopher Nolan has less than enthusiastic statements concerning their move as well.
More bad news as The New York Times reports that while most directors and actors were notified about the announcement 90 minutes before it happened last week, one project got special treatment.
To prevent the news of the 17-movie shift from leaking (and to make the move speedily rather than get mired in the expected blowback), WarnerMedia kept the major agencies and talent management companies in the dark until roughly 90 minutes before issuing a news release. Even some Warner Bros. executives had little warning.
WarnerMedia and agencies managed to quietly secure deals for $10 million plus each for director Patty Jenkins and actress Gal Gadot ahead of the announcement of Wonder Woman 1984 going to HBO Max for Christmas Day, along with their cooperation they’d still help promote the film. I don’t think that this says anything about Patty or Gal, but it certainly looks bad for WarnerMedia being more concerned about the news leaking than speaking with the filmmakers and actors.
Last month, Warner Bros. quietly approached Hollywood’s two biggest talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists.
With Wonder Woman 1984, agents argued that Ms. Gadot, Ms. Jenkins and the producer Charles Roven (among others) needed to be paid what they most likely would have received had the sequel been released in a traditional manner (an exclusive run in theaters before arriving online) and not during the height of a pandemic. After all, that was what they signed up for, and Warner Bros. and HBO Max, its corporate sibling, wanted their help in promoting the film, did they not? After a tense negotiation, Warner Bros., which is owned by AT&T, agreed that Ms. Gadot and Ms. Jenkins would each get more than $10 million, according to two people with knowledge of the deals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private agreements.
Industry folks, the Director Guild of America, and other talent agencies weren’t entirely thrilled either.
The surprise move left agencies on a war footing. Representatives for major Warner Bros. stars like Denzel Washington, Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Keanu Reeves, Hugh Jackman and Angelina Jolie wanted to know why their clients had been treated in a lesser manner than Ms. Gadot. Talk of a Warner Bros. boycott began circulating inside the Directors Guild of America. A partner at one talent agency spent part of the weekend meeting with litigators. Some people started to angrily refer to the studio as Former Bros.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES