Christopher Nolan has been vocal about his distaste for releasing movies in theaters and online at the same time for many years, including a 2017 interview when he called Netflix’s attempt “untenable” before later apologizing. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s just as ticked off by the new Warner Bros. plan to release all of its 2021 movies in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time, and he’s far from the only one in Hollywood feeling that way.
With Tenet due to make its video on-demand debut December 15th after a pandemic-limited theatrical run netted an estimated $57 million in the US and Canada ($359 million worldwide), the writer/director/producer called the news “A real bait and switch.” He objected to the 17 films scheduled for month-long availability on HBO Max becoming a “loss leader” to build up the streaming service.
In a statement sent to the Hollywood Reporter he held back even less, saying that the decision made “no economic sense” and that big 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.”
He’s just one name on the list of those upset by the move, with Variety reporting that Legendary Entertainment — which co-financed Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong — may sue Warner Bros. over the move. The New York Times has more details on the complicating factors of this move, as everyone wonders how the HBO Max release will affect how much money they can make. While the studio apparently negotiated an extra payout for the director and star of Wonder Woman 1984, many of the people and companies impacted on the 2021 slate found out about the decision only minutes before it was announced, if they were notified at all.
According to both outlets, Netflix offered to buy Godzilla vs. Kong for as much as $250 million but Warner Bros. prevented the deal. The New York Times reports the HBO Max arrangement will pay Warner Bros. a licensing fee for the rights to stream each movie for 31 days, with a floor of either $10 million or 25 percent of the film’s net production costs