It's not just Christopher Nolan who is unhappy about WarnerMedia's recent decision to have all of its 2021 movies debut on HBO Max. It has come to light that James Gunn, director of The Suicide Squad, is also said to be displeased with the studio following its bombshell announcement last week. But this is quickly proving to be a decision that could backfire, as A-list talent across the board is angry with the studio, for various reasons.
According to a new report, WarnerMedia made the announcement that all of its 2021 slate next year will debut both in movie theaters and on HBO Max on the same day with little or no warning to talent and agencies. James Gunn and others were blindsided by the announcement. Even though Gunn, who is known for directing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, is said to be "platform-agnostic," it is also said that he was "not pleased." Aside from the lack of warning, this is ultimately a compensation issue across the board.
Talent, such as directors and actors, have complex contracts for big movies, such as The Suicide Squad. They are often paid a sum up front, for A-list talent that is usually a large sum. The deals also often include some back end. This means if a movie performs well at the box office, talent can expect to see another huge payday. With the HBO max release strategy, a huge chunk of potential box office is surely being taken off the table for the entirety of 2021. And the studio did not renegotiate its deals with the talent involved in any of these movies ahead of the announcement.
Part of the issue is that Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot renegotiated ahead of that movie's HBO Max announcement, reportedly earning more than $10 million each in additional compensation. In the case of The Suicide Squad, there is an army of A-list talent aside from James Gunn including Margot Robbie, Idris Elba and Viola Davis, among many others. Gunn isn't the only one who is upset, with Jon M. Chu (In the Heights) also named as an unhappy party. A talent agent, who opted to stay anonymous, had this to say.
"You had a decades-long legacy as being known as the most talent-friendly studio. Now you've gone from that to a studio that in starburst colors lit up a sign that says, 'We don't give a f*** about talent.'"
The announcement has sent shockwaves through Hollywood and the dust is far from settled. Legendary is also preparing to file legal action to prevent both Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong from being included in the deal. Legendary financed approximately 75 percent of both high-profile projects. Netflix had also offered a rich deal for Godzilla vs. Kong, which Legendary wanted to take but WarnerMedia put a stop on. How this all plays out remains to be seen but it's going to get messy, that much is certain. This news comes to us via The Hollywood Reporter.