Ever since Warner Bros. announced that the studio will be simultaneously releasing its entire 2021 slate of movies both streaming on HBO Max and in theaters, which includes the like of Wonder Woman 1984, The Matrix 4, and Dune, filmmakers and actors have been openly bashing the decision. The recent addition to the string of complaints is Christopher Nolan, who has frankly commented that the media company is making a big mistake by flocking 17 highly-awaited films to "the worst streaming service" i.e., HBO Max.
As the pandemic has still not abetted enough to let theatres throw open their doors and allow viewers to crowd their premises without triggering a massive spread of the coronavirus, filmmakers have been turning to streaming platforms to debut their long-delayed productions. But Warner Bros.' big leap into the future, that too without consulting those concerned with the 17 films, has become a topic of heated debates. Even Christopher Nolan, whose latest feature Tenet was bankrolled and distributed by the company, criticized the shocking decision in a chat with The Hollywood Reporter.
"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 theatres 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," he further added.
Reportedly even James Gunn was "not pleased" by the announcement as Warner Bros. followed it by "floating a lackluster formula for compensating him and other profit participants in the film."
Warner Bros. decision to release its upcoming films simultaneously in theatres and HBO Max on the day of their respective premiere dates could have stemmed from the less-than expected revenue earned by Tenet. It became the first Hollywood tent-pole that debuted in theatres after they had been shut down in the wake of the pandemic.
As there were no other big-budgets to rival Tenet, it got more screens per multiplex than it normally would have. It managed to gross $359 million worldwide and was even pegged as the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2020 but it was not enough to break even the hefty price of its production as well as a staggering marketing budget.
Even the added allure of watching a Nolan film on the big screen didn't flock more people to the theatres and the distributor Warner Bros. ended up incurring loses that added up to $100 million. Along with that, HBO Max hadn't had the smoothest ride and isn't really proving to be much of a competition for other streaming platforms in the race.
While this makes Warner Bros.' decision somewhat understandable, for them to decide the future of not one or two but 17 major projects distributed across the entire 2021 is not sitting well with many, who like Nolan have shared that they are not in favour of the plan. As per reports, Crazy Rich Asians director, Jon M. Chu was "shell-shocked" when he got the news. Director Denis Villeneuve has also expressed his disappointment as he knows that the world he has built-in Dune needs to debut on the big screen. The Hollywood Reporter.