Christopher Nolan, the director of the film Tenet, slammed production giant Warner Bros. over their plans to release films simultaneously in theatres as well as on streaming platform HBO Max.
Talking to ET Online, Nolan said that Warner Bros. tried to be a “loss-leader for the streaming service – for the fledgling streaming service.”
Last week,WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar had announced in a statement that after DC’s Wonder Woman 1984, all their films slated to release in 2021 will release simultaneously on HBO Max as well as in theatres for US audiences on the same day. A total of 17 films, including Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, King Richard, Cry Macho, Matrix 4, will now be released under this hybrid model.
In the interview with ET Online, Nolan said that he was in “disbelief” over the studio’s decision. “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,” he said.
“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,” Nolan added.
Calling HBO Max “the worst streaming service”, Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement, “Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theaters 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.”
Tenet, which is Nolan’s latest release was produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Nolan’s relationship with Warner Bros. started in 2002 with his film Insomnia.
Lucas Shaw, a business reporter with Bloomberg, had mentioned in a Twitter thread that Nolan had insisted on Tenet be released in theatres and Warner Bros. obliged as a “favour to Nolan and to test the theatres”. He said Warner Bros. lost a lot of money with Tenet and made only “$60M in the biggest market in the world” while “Inception made $292 in the US” and “Interstellar made $188M”.
A report in Deadline mentioned that Legendary Entertainment, the production company that has co-financed the upcoming films Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong, is likely to take legal action against Warner Bros. over their HBO Max deal announcement.
Sources told Deadline that executives at Legendary Entertainment found out about the HBO Max deal only 30 minutes before Warner Bros. went public with the announcement. The report mentioned that executives were considering if streaming these films would tarnish “the long term viability of the franchises”.
According to Deadline, Legendary Entertainment “has or will send legal letters to Warner Bros. as soon as today”.
Godzilla vs. Kong is scheduled to premiere on May 21, 2021, while Dune is slated to release on October 1, 2021.