Warner Bros. delayed the release of Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi tentpole “Tenet” three times over the course of 2020 due to the pandemic, eventually dropping it in whatever theaters were possible on September 3. So it’s no shock to learn that Nolan, who’s currently doing press to promote the home video release of “Tenet,” isn’t keen on the studio’s seismic decision to dump all of its 2021 releases onto HBO Max (and day in date in available theaters) next year.
Nolan told ET Online in a recent interview that he’s in “disbelief. Especially the way in which they did,” alluding to how allegedly many filmmakers weren’t given much notice, or any at all. “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.”
Nolan has long nurtured a relationship with studio Warner Bros. from “The Dark Knight” films to “Inception,” “Interstellar,” and “Dunkirk.” His Oscar-winning films perform consistently well at the box office, so it’s expected Nolan would be rankled by the decision.
“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,” he said.
Nolan had stronger words in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter that slammed HBO Max as “the worst streaming service.”
“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,” he wrote. “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.”
Nolan added to ET Online that the film industry is using “the pandemic as an excuse for sort of grappling for short-term advantage. And it’s really unfortunate,” he said. “It’s not the way to do business, and it’s not the best thing for the health of our industry.”
Still, Nolan is optimistic that the ecosystem of film exhibition will thrive again soon. “When the theaters are back and people are going back to the movies, when the vaccine has been rolled out and there’s an appropriate health response from the federal government, I’m very bullish on the long-term prospects of the industry.People love going to the movies and they’re going to get to go again,” he said.
Among the many movies affected by the Warner Bros./HBO Max shakeup next year are “Dune,” “The Matrix 4,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Godzilla vs. King,” and “In the Heights.”