Warner Bros. may have damaged one of its most valuable filmmaker relationships with its recent controversial decision regarding 2021 theatrical releases.
Christopher Nolan, who has released all of his films with the studio since Insomnia in 2002, blasted the company in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, Dec. 7. He offered his reaction to Warner Bros.’ announcement on Thursday, Dec. 3 that its entire 2021 film slate would debut on streaming service HBO Max on the same day as the movies hit theaters, rather than waiting the customary months-long window for home releases.
“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,” Nolan said.
The 50-year-old Dunkirk director made it clear that he sees the decision as hurting the cinematic experience, not to mention Warner Bros.’ bottom line.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight from the same day as the THR story, Nolan lambasted the studio for not showing respect to is filmmakers and stars. Warner Bros. hadn’t warned any of its top-tier talent that this decision was in the works for its 17 planned theatrical releases for the coming year, which include Dune, In the Heights and The Suicide Squad.
“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 told ET. “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.”
Nolan has long been an advocate for film and the theatrical experience. His most recent movie Tenet, which stars John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, launched in theaters over Labor Day weekend following numerous delays due to the ongoing pandemic. The release was not as successful as hoped, with theaters remaining closed in numerous major markets.