WarnerMedia may have had a wrench thrown in the gears over its recent bombshell HBO Max announcement. The studio revealed that its entire 2021 movie slate will be heading to the streaming service on the same day that those titles are released in theaters. Now, Legendary Entertainment has stepped in and intends to stop this from happening with both Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, two of the biggest titles contained within the announcement.
According to a new report, Legendary intends to "challenge" WarnerMedia on the decision. The company co-financed the movies with WarnerMedia as part of an ongoing partnership. But they didn't seem to be happy with the amount of money potentially being taken off the table, especially with the prospect of viable vaccines just around the corner. Industry insider Mike Fleming Jr. had this to say about it.
"I'm hearing that Legendary Entertainment either has or will send legal letters to Warner Bros as soon as today, challenging the decision to put the Denis Villeneuve-directed Dune into the HBO Max deal, and maybe Godzilla vs Kong as well. On the latter, Legendary reportedly had Netflix ready to pull the film from Warner Bros for around $250 million, before WarnerMedia blocked it. Sources said Legendary had no advance notice before last week's announcement that both Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong were part of the HBO Max plan."
As had been previously reported, Netflix offered north of $200 million for the streaming rights to Godzilla Vs Kong. Legendary, it seems, was gearing up to take the deal before WarnerMedia blocked it. Since WarnerMedia controls HBO Max, they thought it would be best to keep the blockbuster in-house. In terms of any legal action Legendary could take here, they may very well have firm ground to stand on, as they financed the majority of both movies in question, roughly 75 percent. That means they expect a big return on investment. The HBO Max deal will hamper box office returns greatly, even though the movies will still ultimately be released in theaters.
There are big questions with Dune specifically. The hope is that director Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's novel, which boasts an A-list, stacked cast, will be the beginning of a franchise. Lofty comparisons to Lord of the Rings have been made. If those comparisons prove to be warranted, they could be looking at a $1 billion global box office hit, once the global theatrical marketplace returns to normal (if it returns to normal).
This is just one example of the tension that the HBO Max deal created with the industry as a whole. Theater chains such as AMC, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, have voiced their distaste for the deal as well. Even though WarnerMedia only, for now, intends to do this with its 2021 slate, the consequences will be long-lasting and the genie cannot simply be put back in the bottle. Godzilla vs. Kong is currently expected to arrive on May 21, 2021, with Dune scheduled for October 1, 2021. This news comes to us via Deadline.