Christopher Nolan’s Ugly War Breaking With HBO Max and WarnerMedia

Marlow: Well, here we are: debating the great movie war on streaming of 2020. As you’ve probably all heard, last week, WarnerMedia – which controls Warner Bros., HBO, Cinemax, and Turner Broadcasting, among others. entities – rocked the film industry by announcing that its set of 2021 theatrical slate would debut on both HBO Max and in theaters – one HBO Max month before leaving the platform and performing in theaters at home and abroad, crushing the traditional demands of theatrical showcases.

Kevin: Considering how things have progressed during the pandemic, this is both the most shocking news and the most inevitable – that is, it is pretty much the perfect end to this year. of combustible hell.

Marlow: The chaos of cinema. Thus, the Warner Bros. headed to HBO Max includes blockbusters like Wonder Woman 1984, Godzilla vs. Kong, The suicide squad, Dune, Matrix 4, Space Jam: a new legacy, and In the heights, as well as the court at the Oscars Judas and the Black Messiah, and in a strange and ironic twist, the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark.

Kevin: A veritable orgy of sequels, reboots and adaptations, streaming directly from your home! It shows, however, how explosive this decision is. For better or worse, these are the projects that still make money at the box office and keep theaters open.

Marlow: And this poor Sopranos film, which will never leave HBO! WarnerMedia appeared to make the decision to renew subscriptions to its new streamer HBO Max, which has attracted a paltry 8.6 million signups since launching on May 27 for $ 14.99 per month (a dollar more than Netflix). . That’s an extremely low number since an additional 28.7 million people subscribe to regular HBO and HBO Max goes along with it, so they didn’t even bother to turn it on. Either way, the move would have ranked the talent side, who say they’ve been kept completely in the dark about the move, along with Christopher Nolan, who is with Warner Bros. since 2002. Insomnia, story The Hollywood Reporter Kim Masters, “Some of our industry’s greatest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before they thought they were working for the biggest movie studio and woke up to find they were working for the worst. streaming service. ” Yikes!

Kevin: Basically, this industry stabilization drama between Nolan and WarnerMedia looks a lot like a typical Nolan movie itself: The biggest people in Hollywood are all involved in something very big, loud, and seemingly important – and yet so. almost impossible to understand. You can sort of simplify this for the non-showbiz everyone by distilling the whole battle to the simplest truth about Hollywood: Everyone is a selfish ass, and no one is actually going to win.

Marlow: Christopher Nolan a do not made friends this summer. I’m just counting the days until he shows up on Joe Rogan’s podcast to complain that theaters aren’t reopening or something like that.

Christopher Nolan didn’t make any friends this summer. I’m just counting the days until he appears on Joe Rogan’s podcast to complain that theaters aren’t reopening …

Kevin: I find Nolan’s statement particularly infuriating. Given the impulse to have Principle being the movie that reopened theaters this summer – and, he hopes, saving them – as soon as HBO Max’s decision was released, everyone in the business could only imagine it would have a reaction massive, somewhat hysterical at the news. It is frustrating for him to be so publicly irritable about it with this dig for “worst streaming service”, as the pettiness makes the headlines and obscures what is a valid and important point that he makes, a point that people who might be happy to save money and watch Wonder Woman 1984 from home might not intuitively right away. It will have a seismic effect on filmmaking, budgets, what goes green, ambition and the future of cinemas. And that’s not to say that the way WarnerMedia proceeded, without educating the talent and filmmakers involved, was shady to the point of despicable.

Marlow: While as a consumer part of me is stunned by the news that I am now able to watch all of these movies while trapped at home – while watching Villeneuve Dune on a small screen looks all kinds of wrong – I don’t know how that makes commercial sense for HBO Max. It looks like they’re trying to woo Wall Street with the move, which stuns the prospects for streaming services, and has alienated all of their talent. Depending on the deadline, Wonder Woman 1984 (which cost $ 200 million to make) will have to do 40 percent more than PrincipleGlobal shipping of $ 357.8 million just to break even, and that’s just one of the movies at play here. So it looks like WarnerMedia is willing to essentially play its domestic box office for all of these movies – probably billions of dollars – on HBO Max subs. They’re basically saying they don’t think there will be a massive vaccine distribution by summer 2021 that could allow cinemas to reopen and cinema to stabilize.

Kevin: HBO Max doesn’t really make sense, that’s pretty much the theme of its rollout, which was a disaster. This is reflected in its low number of subscribers, despite the fact that – facing Nolan’s brand as “the worst streaming service” – it has probably become what I think is the best. Or at least it has the best content for the value.

Marlow: Don’t forget all that sweet Disney + content!

Kevin: Still, there is the problem that even after this announcement of the movie roster’s arrival to the service, the people who already have it because they are HBO subscribers don’t realize that they have it. have. Or, because they use Roku for streaming, they can’t access it even if they are subscribed. Messaging has been everywhere; I still think there are people who don’t understand that it’s not just HBO. (Which is also a testament to how the service has diluted the HBO brand.) That said, it’s incredibly frustrating that a company like WarnerMedia with such a rich and in-demand library of content continues to royally screw up its marquee rollout. . streaming service. To give credit where it’s due, Nolan is probably right to have, at the very least, little faith in his plan.

Marlow: And while it’s hard to take what Christopher Nolan is saying here seriously given his demeanor Principle over the summer, where he was essentially pushing theaters to reopen to show his film despite the rather obvious transmission risks – at one point, the team Principle even encouraged critics in the New York area to cross state borders during the COVID-19 pandemic in Connecticut to show the film – he’s right. Why didn’t HBO Max follow in Disney + ‘s footsteps and let their top talent know that their projects were going to air? It seems like a colossal misstep – and like THR reported, can open the door to legal challenges regarding profit sharing, etc.

Kevin: Is it too much for Bugs Bunny to ask for a little warning that Space Jam 2 will not be seen exclusively in theaters as he had planned? But aside from the jokes, that probably hints at the most existential part of it all. WarnerMedia is clearly not optimistic, as you said, that the world will be back to normal anytime soon. But let’s tie up our Pollyanna beanie and say yes. Having the ability to broadcast at home or see in theaters at the same time is the experience that I think everyone in the industry has seen happen. Considering the (safe) option, do people want to go to the movies more? Or are we officially streaming converts, and the new era of movie watching has officially begun? It is undeniable that we were / have been there. But I don’t think anyone wants to admit that it’s happening so early.

Marlow: I have so many issues with HBO Max as a user – especially its interface, which is very hard to navigate, doesn’t provide scrolling trailers like Netflix, and doesn’t seem to have Netflix’s algorithm for determining recommendations etc. While I think HBO Max has been put in a difficult position here due to the ongoing pandemic, which has claimed more than 270,000 lives in America alone, it looks like they may have jumped the gun at this. regards this 2021 game plan, especially given how they’ve already started vaccine distribution in the UK, and one would hope the US will get their distribution act together once the Biden administration / Harris takes over in January. (The Trump administration has already screwed the dog up.) While streaming is our future, I don’t think movie theater will go back in the next five to ten years, and I agree with the filmmaker. (and HBO Max entrepreneur) Steven Soderbergh, who recently told The Daily Beast:

LAnd it’s clear: there is no windfall in the entertainment industry that is the equivalent of a movie that grosses a billion dollars or more in theaters. This is the holy grail. So the theatrical activity does not disappear. There are too many companies that have invested too much money in the prospect of releasing an exploding movie in theaters – there is no such thing. Everything will come back. But I think Warners says: not as soon as you think.

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