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Christopher Nolan Calls HBO Max ‘Worst Streaming Service’ For Bringing Movies Same Day as Theaters

Stephanie Sengwe

WarnerMedia’s decision to bring its 2021 film slate to both theaters and HBO Max on the same day continues to have a negative ripple effect. First, the company got major backlash from theatrical distributors, with AMC’s Adam Aron stating, “Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up,” he said in a statement.

“As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business. We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.”

Now, it looks like the creatives are getting their say as well. Renowned film director, Christopher Nolan had some scathing comments regarding the way WarnerMedia went about their decision.

“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” Nolan said to 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.”

On Dec. 3, WarnerMedia made a game changing announcement, revealing that in addition to Wonder Woman 1984, films on their 2021 theatrical slate —including Godzilla vs. Kong, The Suicide Squad, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Dune and Matrix 4 —will all premiere on HBO Max the same day they hit theaters.

The decision was immediately faced with some backlash. In addition to AMC’s Aron, Cinemark and Regal also had their opinions regarding the move. “In light of the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a film-by-film basis. At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films,” Cinemark said in their statement.

Regal parent company Cineworld, said that they will be looking for “an agreement about the proper window and terms” when their theaters open in the first quarter.

“Cineworld was aware of WB’s plan to release Wonder Woman directly to its streaming service, which has been announced at a time when our cinemas remain closed in the US (Regal) and UK (Cineworld). We are very encouraged by the giant steps achieved recently with regards to the COVID-19 vaccination process…We believe that at such a time WB will look to reach an agreement about the proper window and terms that will work for both sides. Big movies are made for the big screen and we cannot wait to reopen our cinemas in Q1 in order to offer our customers, as always, the best place to watch a movie.”

However, while the industry has been rattled by the decision, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar urged everyone to calm down and stated that the decision was pandemic related and not an underhanded effort to boost HBO Max subscribers as Aron alluded.

Kilar told CNBC, “Everyone should take a breather. Let’s let the next six, eight, ten months play out. And then let’s check back in. Certainly this is pandemic-related. That’s why we’re doing it. We haven’t spent one brain cell on what the world looks like in 2022. I learned long ago not to make statements over a year from now.”

Though he insisted that the move came as a necessity because of the pandemic, Kilar admitted that he believes theatrical distribution will remain a key part of the film business in the future. “I have conviction that for the next several decades there will be a very large volume of consumers worldwide that will choose on any given night, especially a Friday or Saturday night, to go out to a theater to be entertained by a great Warner Brothers movie,” he stated.

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