film directors

Christopher Nolan criticizes Warner Bros over HBO Max deal

Christopher Nolan criticizes Warner Bros over HBO Max deal

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 29: Christopher Nolan speaks onstage during the Fourth Annual Kodak Film Awards at ASC Clubhouse on January 29, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Kodak/AFP

The veteran director denounces Warner Bros' decision to release their 2021 movie line-up on the streaming platform

Oscar-winning director Christopher Nolan criticized Warner Bros’ decision to release their entire 2021 theatrical lineup on the streaming service HBO Max, which includes highly-anticipated movies like Dune and Matrix 4. The movies will hit the streaming service at the same time as their theatrical releases.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight Online, Nolan described the deal as a “bait and switch,” saying that the company failed to notify other parties about their decision.

“They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audience,” Nolan said about the films affected by the HBO Max deal. “Now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service – for the fledgling streaming service –without any consultation.”

“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 also 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,” Nolan added.

Nolan has worked with Warner Bros for several films, including Interstellar, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Insomnia.

His latest effort is the time-travel film Tenet, which was released in August 2020 and earned just $57 million in the North American box office. According to Variety, moviegoers in North America are still hesitant to leave their homes due to the pandemic, and only 37% of theaters in the region have reopened. 

Earlier, Disney released the live action remake of Mulan on their Disney+ streaming service for an extra fee. The upcoming Pixar animated feature Soul is set to debut on Christmas Day via Disney+, free of charge to existing subscribers. 

The Patty Jenkins-directed Wonder Woman 1984 will also be available on HBO Max on Christmas Day, becoming the first film to be released as part of the deal with Warner Bros. The streaming service is currently only available in the United States, with a Europe and Latin America rollout planned for 2021.

Other big players in the film industry have also been dissatisfied with Warner Bros.’ move. Variety reported that Dune director Denis Villenueve shared a similar sentiment with Nolan, reportedly favoring a traditional rollout for his sci-fi epic. 

The production company Legendary Entertainment, which co-funded Dune, is reportedly eyeing legal action against Warner Bros over the streaming deal. – with reports from Jericho Igdanes/

Jericho Igdanes is a Rappler intern.