Christopher Nolan, who has supplied Warner Bros. with multiple blockbusters, has expressed deep dissatisfaction with the studio’s decision to release its entire 2021 theatrical slate simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming service
“There’s such controversy around it, because they didn’t tell anyone,” said Nolan in an ET Online interview released Monday. “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.”
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Nolan’s “Tenet” was the last major tentpole movie to launch in movie theaters. The time-travel thriller has grossed $57 million in North America for Warner Bros. in three months as moviegoers showed reluctance to return to multiplexes with the COVID-19 pandemic raging. “Tenet” topped $300 million internationally. Nolan’s resume at Warner Bros. includes “Dunkirk,” The Dark Knight trilogy, “Inception” and “Interstellar.”
The studio stunned Hollywood on Dec. 3 with its announcement that all 17 of its 2021 titles — including the fourth “Matrix,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Godzilla v. Kong,” “Dune” and “In the Heights” — would debut on HBO Max immediately upon their theatrical release as parent WarnerMedia faces the prospect of moviegoers continuing to shun theaters. Nolan’s said his reaction was “disbelief….especially the way in which they did.”
“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,” he added. “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.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to North American exhibitors opting to operate with only 37% of movie theaters open while studios holding back the release of major titles.
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