On December 3rd Warner Bros. announced that it would send 17 films directly to HBO Max in 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic and its affect on the theatrical exhibition business. This deal blindsided many filmmakers, actors, composers, talent, etc., including producer/writer/director Christopher Nolan. The filmmaker spoke with THR about the deal, and he didn’t mince words.
“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.” — Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan’s relationship with Warner Bros. dates back to Insomnia in 2002. The relationship is notably one of the strongest between any current director and studio. In fact, the relationship is so strong that when Nolan wanted to make Interstellar, a script which belonged to Paramount, Nolan was able to broker a deal that landed Warner Bros. international rights to the film’s distribution.
“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.” — Christopher Nolan
The director also spoke with NPR, where he elaborated on the danger the deal could have on the industry. Most notably Nolan stands up for the workers in the industry that have less of a financial footing than what name-brand talent might have.
“And I’m not talking about me. I’m not talking about Ben Affleck or whoever. I’m talking about the grips, the electricians who depend on IA [the International Alliance union] and IA residuals for pension and health care. I’m talking about SAG [the Screen Actors Guild]. I’m talking about actors. I’m talking about when I come on the set and I’ve got to shoot a scene with a waiter or a lawyer who has two or three lines. They need to be earning a living in that profession, working maybe sometimes a couple of days a year. And that’s why the residuals structure is in place.” — Christopher Nolan
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has done great harm to the movie business, and business in general. Worldwide there have been 1.61 million reported deaths, and nearly 72 million positive cases at the time of this publication. The concern over the danger of the pandemic led us here at NolanFans to do a total publication blackout during the film’s theatrical release. The film industry will have to adapt to the realities of the pandemic and our recovery from it. But is this deal Warner Bros. set up with HBO Max for the greater good? Share your thoughts in our Forums.