Last week, Warner Bros. announced that it will be sending all of its new releases in 2021 to HBO Max at the same time that they premiere in theaters. While HBO Max subscribers were happily surprised by the news, it sounds like production companies were less enthusiastic about the decision.
Legendary Entertainment, the company that co-financed two of the films that will be going straight to streaming, “Dune” and “Godzilla vs Kong,” is reportedly considering suing Warner Bros. The company was a major funder of “Dune” which cost around $175 million and “Godzilla vs Kong” which cost around $160 million. Legendary was not involved in the decision to debut its movies on HBO Max along with 15 other films in 2021.
Sources for Variety say that Legendary is first trying to negotiate a stronger deal with Warner Bros. but will take legal action if an agreement cannot be reached.
Theater execs have also spoken up about the decision to skip the theatrical window completely.
Cinemark was quick to release a statement after the announcement was made, saying that plans were discussed with WarnerMedia to take it one movie at a time. “In light of the current operating environment, we are making near-term booking decisions on a film-by-film basis. At this time, Warner Bros. has not provided any details for the hybrid distribution model of their 2021 films.”
AMC also responded, with CEO Adam Aron taking a more aggressive stance. “Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business.”