Many in Hollywood are still wrapping their heads around Warner Bros.’ bombshell decision to have simultaneous theater and HBO Max debuts for the films on its 2021 slate. As some may have expected, not everyone is too high on the plan. Christopher Nolan, whose worked with the studio on countless films, let out some pretty blunt thoughts about the decision, even going as far as to refer to HBO Max as “the worst streaming service.” While other director have yet to give out statements like that, it still appears that some other high-profile creatives like James Gunn are also not big on the idea.
James Gunn, the mind behind 2021’s The Suicide Squad, was reportedly not pleased with the studio for loading his upcoming superhero film on HBO Max, per The Hollywood Reporter. The trade, which refers to him as “platform agnostic,” reportedly also took issue with the way in which Warner Bros. planned to compensate him and his collaborators for their work.
One of the other major films slated to hit theaters next year is the feature-film adaptation of In the Heights, which comes from director John M. Cho (of Crazy Rich Asians) and producer Lin-Manuel Miranda. According to the trade, Chu took issue with Warner Bros. HBO Max strategy, so much so that studio chairman Toby Emmerich had to “soothe” him by pointing out that the film is still set for a “global theatrical release.”
And of course, Dune, which also stands as one of the most anticipated films of 2021 has also been affected by the move. Director and co-writer Denis Villeneuve has not been quoted as saying anything to the effect of Nolan, but THR still notes that he expected his sci-fi spectacle to have a traditional theatrical run.
Speaking of Dune, the film’s production company, Legendary Entertainment, is reportedly not happy with this recent development as well. According to a recent report, the company may seek to challenge the decision to put both Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong on the streaming service and could do so by taking legal action against Warner Bros.
While there are a number of unknowns in this situation that won’t be fully realized until next year, one thing that is clear is that Wonder Woman 1984 will truly serve as a testing ground for Warner Bros.’ new HBO Max/theater release method. So far, the film has earned strong reactions thus far, and those paired with the anticipation for the film could potentially bode well for its performance.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that Warner Bros. still has plenty of things to talk out with its creatives. We’ll have to wait and see if any of them chose to give more vocal responses as Christopher Nolan has.
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