It’s no secret that Christopher Nolan is one of the biggest advocates for the theatrical experience out there, but with COVID-19 closing theaters and delaying films over the past year, we’ve all had to adapt to a new normal. After several delays, Christopher Nolan’s TENET was the first blockbuster to be released in theaters last year, but it failed to break even, leading Warner Bros. to re-examine their plans for the rest of their films.
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The studio then announced that they would be releasing their entire 2021 theatrical slate simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, a move that angered a number of directors, including Christopher Nolan. The director has called Warner Bros. home for twenty years, but according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Nolan is “unlikely” to work with the studio again in future based in part on their choice to release their films on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day. If true, this could end up being quite damaging to Warner Bros. and quite beneficial to whichever studio is able to scoop him up. Who knows whether Nolan really will part ways with Warner Bros., but it’s clear that the studio will have to go above and beyond if they want to hold on to him. When asked about Warner Bros.’ HBO Max plans last month, Nolan said:
Oh, I mean, disbelief. Especially the way in which they did. 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. 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.
In a further statement to THR, Nolan continued: “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. “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.” If anyone lives next to Christopher Nolan, can you check to see if there’s a giant gift basket at his door yet?