Director Christopher Nolan has publicly condemned Warner Bros’ unexpected decision to release their 2021 line-up of films concurrently on HBO Max, which he called “the worst streaming service.”
“Some of our world’s leading filmmakers and most important film stars went to bed the night before they thought they were working for the biggest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming platform,” the director told The Hollywood Journalist. He added that the studio “had an incredible device to get the work of a filmmaker out everywhere but claims to be disabling it in a move that does not make economic sense.”
While Nolan has long been a ferocious supporter of watching movies on the huge screen, his disapproval of Warner Bros’ decision seems to have a lot to do with how it was done. The New York Times notes that major studios and talent acquisition firms involved with the 17 films were kept in the dark about the news until about 90 minutes before it was publicly disclosed to avoid the leakage of information.
“There’s a lot of debate about it because [Warner Bros.] didn’t tell anyone,” Nolan told ETOnline. “In 2021, they have some of the world’s best directors, some of the country’s greatest stars who have worked on these projects for years, really close to their hearts, which are supposed to be big-screen experiences. They’re supposed to be out there for the largest potential audience… Now they’re has been used as a loss-leader for streaming—for fledgling streaming—without any consultation.”
“There’s a lot of debate,” Nolan said, “It’s kind of not how you treat filmmakers and celebrities and people who gave a lot to these ventures. They needed to be informed and thought about what was going to happen to their jobs.”
As well as causing a fuss with a surprise announcement, Warner Bros’ decision also raised questions about the amount of money that filmmakers will get for their work. The New York Times reports that certain contracts assumed that the studios were seeking to increase the revenues of the box office, eventually contributing to massive payouts for the actors who made a portion of ticket sales. Under the new model, streaming viewers may become a more critical target for studios, with potentially significant consequences for pay packages.
Despite the upset, Nolan is adamant that people will return to the movie theater when it’s comfortable to do so, telling ETOnline, “The film theater experience will recover quickly and be a very important part of the long-term environment.” But big concerns remain about how likely consumers will be to pay for the tickets to the movie theater after being used to watching these big releases from the comfort of home.