When Warner Bros. made the decision to release its entire 2021 slate of films simultaneously to HBO Max and theatres, it must have thought that it had a good plan brewing. After all, not only will Warner Bros. still allow its movies to play in most international markets via cinemas, it can factor potential losses against increased subscriptions to its new flagship streaming service.
This move has backfired within the film industry though, as it has turned Warner Bros. into a major enemy for the film business and big cinema chains in the US. Many directors and stars who earn royalties from a movie’s box office performance feel cheated by the decision from Warner Bros., including Tenet director Christopher Nolan, Suicide Squad director James Gunn and many other actors with films coming out during the year including Will Smith, Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington, Margot Robbie, and Angelina Jolie. A New York Times article has revealed that several major talent agencies and even the Directors Guild of America are considering boycotting the studio as a result of that decision:
Variety is reporting that the studio is looking at ways of paying some of those lead actors and directors affected by their decision the same way that it paid Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot as a result of that movie coming to HBO Max first. Warner Bros. has not revealed any details of how this will work yet, but no doubt with all of the immediate pressure and backlash it is now facing, expect the studio to look to try and make a similar deal in the near future. Whether any of them will accept a new deal with Warner Bros. given this response remains another matter entirely.
No doubt the studio’s reputation is getting hurt through this whole debacle, though at the same time I can sympathise with them for simply just trying to minimise their financial losses. Even more so considering it’s a formula Disney and Netflix are following with many movies too. Perhaps the lesson for them is not so much about the decision that was made but rather the way in which it was announced. Warner Bros. should’ve spent more time engaging with the people that make its movies rather than just sidelining them in the decision-making process.
There is a positive side to this story, at least for us, as industry members have decided to refer to the studio as Former Bros. and that is one play on the studio name that is too good not to laugh at.
Last Updated: December 9, 2020