Let's be clear right out of the gate: Christopher Nolan is wrong about a lot of things. His attempt to save theaters did the opposite, and his urging of movie-goers to attend theaters while it was unsafe for them was horrible. With that in mind, Nolan and all of the other directors who frequently partner with Warner Bros. have plenty of reason to be furious over this new hybrid release strategy.
No matter how you consume movies, the fact of the matter remains that they're an art form. Directors create their art in a way that's meant to be seen a certain way, which is exactly why many have decided to hold their films until a theatrical release is safe. Warner Bros. removed that opportunity when they decided on this hybrid release plan without consulting any of their partners, whether that be production companies like Legendary Entertainment, directors, or the very actors who bring their star value to the pictures at hand.
Nolan, while again notably wrong about a lot of things, is also typically a stalwart professional. However, the gloves came off when he was interviewed in regard to the decision Warner Bros had made. When asked about how he responded, he said the following:
“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."
He would go on to deliver some pretty scathing remarks about HBO Max:
"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.”
Don't take this to mean that Nolan is the only filmmaker upset that Warner Bros. made a unilateral decision. The Directors Guild of America is considering a boycott of the studio after their behavior. Meanwhile, reps for several actors have reached out to Warner Bros. questioning how their talent will be compensated with films that won't gross near what they would have if they waited to release to a more "normal" market. Legendary Entertainment also continues to consider legal action if the studio doesn't make things right by either purchasing their films outright or pulling back on their hybrid plan with Legendary's films.
The lesson here is that making a unilateral announcement without consulting your partners isn't going to result in the best time. Especially when the only one who benefits is your streaming service.
- AMC strikes a deal on theatrical windows
- Regal shuts down remaining theaters in New York and California
- Theater owners continue to implore congress for aid
- AMC and other exhibitors weren't aware of Warner Bros. hybrid release strategy
- Legendary Entertainment considering legal action against Warner Bros.
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