If there was one big name Hollywood director likely to voice disapproval of Warner Bros’ plans to simultaneously release movies in cinemas and on HBO Max, it was Christopher Nolan.
The noted auteur behind the Dark Knight Trilogy and this year’s Tenet, who has long been an advocate for the big screen experience, accuses Warner of senselessly dismantling the current distribution model. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, he called HBO Max the “worst streaming service.”
He said: “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.
“Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theatres 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.”
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Nolan’s comments are not surprising. He is a purist, one of the few directors still to shoot on real film, and an excellent exponent of the IMAX format. He resisted pressure to bring 2020’s Tenet direct to streaming, despite many of this year’s films skipping a cinemas release entirely.
As a result, the limited capacity of cinemas coupled with the limited appetite for indoor activities during the pandemic, Tenet ended up losing Warner a reported $100 million. One feels that after today’s comments, Nolan’s long relationship with Warner, dating back to Batman Begins, may not endure for much longer.
Warner and HBO’s parent company AT&T’s CEO John Starkey was having none of it, describing criticism as “a lot of noise.” Ok then.