Judd Apatow has become the latest filmmaker to put WarnerMedia on blast for their recent decision to release all their latest films on HBO Max at the same time as in theaters. Filmmaker and producer Apatow, who was a guiding force behind such hits as Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked Up, told Variety that Warner's decision to put their films on streaming without consulting their partners showed disrespect to their filmmakers.
"It's somewhat shocking that a studio for their entire slate could call what appears to be nobody. It's the type of disrespect that you hear about in the history of show business. But to do that to just every single person that you work with is really somewhat stunning."
While WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar has maintained that his company consulted with over 700 professionals affected by the decision before announcing their new release strategy, it has become clear from the number of prominent filmmakers who have come out openly to criticize Warner, from Denis Villeneuve to Christopher Nolan, that a lack of transparency existed around the studio's move. According to Judd Apatow, that move has created a situation where the issue of payment to film teams has become unnecessarily complicated.
"It creates a financial nightmare, because most people are paid residuals - they're paid back-end points. What they get out of it for years and years of hard work is usually based on the success of their films. And so now what does it mean to have a movie go straight to streaming? How do they decide what to pay you? Do you even have a contract that allows you to negotiate, or is it really just up to them at this point? It raises thousands of questions, which I'm sure are very complicated."
All of this is not to say that Apatow has anything against streaming. The filmmaker became one of the first to send his new movie The King of Staten Island straight to streaming earlier this year after it became clear that the lockdown of theaters was going to continue for a long time. Apatow recalls having a respectful conversation with Universal, which produced The King of Staten Island, which led to an amicable decision to release the movie via VOD.
"It was a very respectful conversation about how to get the movie out there. [That movie is the] only thing I really have to give to the human race is something pleasant at a time like this that might make you feel happy and appreciate the people that are risking their lives for you. [Watching the Warner Bros. decision unfold] certainly made me appreciate Universal."
It will be interesting to see how WarnerMedia chooses to respond to the increasing outcry regarding its decision that is starting to pour in from such prominent quarters. For now, the company is still on track to release their latest films on HBO Max, starting with Wonder Woman 1984 near the end of December. This news first appeared at Variety.