I guess any excuse is better than not having one at all. Warner Bros. has been trying to do major damage control since significant backlash emerged from filmmakers and the industry as a whole when they revealed their plan to release their 2021 film slate on the HBO Max streaming service and theaters simultaneously and now they’re offering up a reason why they let key players in the dark. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this reasoning won’t ease the frustration.
According to a new report about the situation, via “The Hollywood Reporter“, Warner Bros. did not tell directors and creative partners about their release strategy over the fear of leaks. WarnerMedia chair and CEO Ann Sarnoff recently spoke about the decision and “The Hollywood Reporter” adds “Sarnoff says the studio announced the 2021 strategy before talking with its partners because they feared the news would leak.” Here is Sarnoff’s full quote:
“I wish we could have had more time to speak to our partners and talent. We are very conscious of paying a fair price for the HBO Max 31-day distribution of the movie, and we think they’ll be happy to see how much effort we will put behind successfully launching these movies.”
Judging by the visceral reaction to the news since it went public on December 4, 2020, it looks like the filmmakers and creative partners are not happy with how this has turned out so far. Christopher Nolan was the first to go public with his disdain for the plan while Dune director Denis Villeneuve expressed disappointment, albeit, with a less stern hand than Nolan. Even directors not currently involved with Warner Bros., such as Judd Apatow, also expressed their disbelief when it came to the utter lack of transparency put forth by the studio. The reaction has been universally the same, for the most part. These filmmakers are made that they have been left in the dark and their financial partners, such as Legendary Entertainment, are questioning if they will get their return on investment without an exclusive theatrical window. Perhaps they were worried the story would leak. but this backlash is far more damaging than any leak would’ve been.
Do YOU think the fear of the news leaking was a valid excuse to keep their plan a secret from the filmmakers and creative partners involved in these projects?