In a series of interviews this week for Entertainment Today and The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Nolan blasted his studio Warner Brothers for its decision to push all of its 2021 onto HBO Max.
“Oh, I mean, disbelief. Especially the way in which they did. There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone. In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers 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. They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy. It’s very, very, very, very messy. A real bait and switch. Yeah, it’s sort of not how you treat filmmakers and stars and people who, these guys have given a lot for these projects. They deserved to be consulted and spoken to about what was going to happen to their work.”ET Online, December 7, 2020
He further elaborated in a subsequent interview:
“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… 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.”The Hollywood Reporter, December 7, 2020
These inflammatory commons are coming in the lead up to Tenet’s release on Bluray on December 15th. Nolan struggled this year with getting his film to open internationally following its delay from July to September. It was subsequently a minor box office bomb and was heavily criticized by critics.
His criticism is clearly rooted in his frustration with his inability to protect the theatrical experience of his film and losing out on a massive market to the unexpected side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Warner Brother’s decision to drop their entire upcoming catalogue on HBO Max has shocked the entire film industry which is struggling to ensure its post-COVID business model. As of the moment, it would appear $200 million blockbusters, like the sorts Nolan makes, could be endangered moving forward.
While it’s unclear what Nolan hopes to accomplish, it will be curious to see if he ends up producing his next film with the studio or moving on considering how much baggage his attached to his recent tenure at WB.