Tenet director Christopher Nolan is leading a chorus of furious protest from the film industry over Warner Bros’ decision to release its entire 2021 slate in the US simultaneously in cinemas and on its streaming service HBO Max.
In an interview with E!, Nolan said his response was one of “disbelief” and that “there’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone … They’ve got some of the top film-makers 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 … And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service … without any consultation.”
He added: “It’s very, very, very, very messy … [It’s] not how you treat film-makers and stars and people who … have given a lot for these projects.”
John Stankey, the chief executive of AT&T, which owns both Warner Bros and HBO Max, defended the move on Tuesday, calling it a “win-win-win”. He said: “I know there’s a lot of noise out in the market, people with different viewpoints. Anytime you’re going to change a model, it’s going to create a degree of noise.” Stankey said the move would give customers a “choice”, and the longer-term would be “dictated by what consumers wish to do”.
Remember that this is all about the money. All of the directors, producers, etc. have been paid – except for those who have compensation tied to box office receipts. They are perfectly happy to sit and wait for the theaters to reopen. Warner Brothers, meanwhile, shelled about a lot of money to make these movies and hasn’t been able to reap any return on that investment. They are trying to salvage some revenue for the year and generate funds to reinvest to make more product. Nobody makes money on movies that nobody is paying to see – except the people who were already paid to make them.