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December 08, 2020

Christopher Nolan Rips Former Partner Warner Bros. for Putting All Movies on HBO

Warner Bros. -- now owned by an incredibly-indebted AT&T -- announced that it would put all of its 2021 movies on HBO Max, with an obligatory, barely-even-counts simultaneous release in movie theaters.

Movie theaters might not even be willing to show a movie that's also on TV at the same time.

Hollywood is reacting angrily. Christopher Nolan, who has a long history with Warner Bros., ripped the company: "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."

On [December 3rd], Ann Sarnoff -- whose ungainly title is chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group -- and Warner Bros. film studio chairman Toby Emmerich called the heads of the major agencies to drop a bombshell: Warners was about to smash the theatrical window, sweeping its entire 17-picture 2021 film slate onto its faltering HBO Max streaming service, debuting them on the same day they would open in whatever theaters could admit customers.

Surprisingly to some in the industry, sources say the idea was the brainchild of Warner Bros. COO Carolyn Blackwood who, looking at a relatively weak 2021 slate, saw an opportunity to avoid the humiliation of potentially bad grosses while currying favor with streamer-obsessed higher-ups.

AT&T doesn't care about the movie business. They only care about the streaming business, and HBOMax has had a poor roll-out. It's an also-ran in the streaming wars.

(To be honest, like most people, I don't even understand what HBOMax is. Is it just the premium side of the already-a-premium-channel HBO? Is it Powered-Up HBO? I don't know! No one does!)

AT&T's move to put all of 2021's movies on HBO, with only a crippled, contractually-obligatory theatrical release, will almost certainly result in lawsuits.

Remember, a lot of the big names in movie production, from producers to directors to stars, get a big cut of a movie's theatrical box office.

And Warner/AT&T has just effectively cancelled, or at least crippled, the theatrical box office-- to benefit HBOMax.

Which the movie's talent has no financial interest in.

The instant response in Hollywood was outrage and a massive girding for battle. "Warners has made a grave mistake," says one top talent agent. "Never have this many people been this upset with one entity." Like others, he had spent much of the day dealing with calls from stunned and angry clients. And that swooshing sound you hear? It's the lawyers, stropping their blades as they prepare for battle: that Warners was self-dealing in shifting these movies to its own streamer, perhaps, or that the company acted in bad faith. Some talent reps say the decision affects not only profit participants but others who have worked on films as the move might affect residual payments. They expect and hope that the guilds will get involved. (The Writers Guild of America declined to comment.)

This is a huge sacrifice play to get HBOMax off the ground. Theatrical exhibition of five of the biggest movies could have brought AT&T maybe one and a half billion dollars. (I'm guessing they take about half of box office receipts, and that the five biggest movies might have grossed three billion all together.)

Instead, they'll get some sign-ups for $10 a month.

They're losing a lot of money here. This only makes sense if they can get a lot of sign-ups, and those signing up stay signing up for a year. Instead of just dumping it after the movie they were interested in is shown.

Midnight's Edge, whose sources tipped them that this was coming weeks ago, have another tip from their sources: AT&T might have done this even without covid.

The reason is that AT&T's entry into the streaming wars, HBOMax, is failing to generate many sign-ups, and buying a library of content for a streaming service was the whole reason for AT&T's acquisition of Warner Bros.

AT&T needs some kind of big attractive content to get people to sign up. Disney has that in The Mandalorian, but what does AT&T have?

Their sources tell them that AT&T had expected that they would launch HBOMax on the promise of four or five Game of Thrones spinoff shows. But, of course, everyone decided they hated Game of Thrones at the finale, and all interest in Game of Thrones immediately fell off to near zero. Further, most of the spinoff shows have been cancelled -- one of them for being "too woke," reportedly.

So HBOMax is debuting its service with the promise of delivering... nothing much, really.

AT&T greenlit the Snyder Cut of Justice League in an attempt to give HBOMax some kind of catchy unique sales proposition. But that's just one movie.

Midnight's Edge's sources tell them that AT&T, therefore, essentially cancelled all the planned 2021 theatrical releases in order to fill the gap created by the implosion of the Game of Thrones franchise.

So if Hollywood begins collapsing -- if this is, as many expect, the first domino that will almost completely end theatrical exhibition in movie houses and cut Hollywood's revenues by, who knows, maybe 75% -- can we say maybe that this was all due to Benioff and Weinberg's total fumble on Game of Thrones?

Has Winter finally come for the media?

(And does this mean obese loudmouth leftist George R.R. Martin singlehandedly destroyed Hollywood due to his laziness?)

>>>9 Huh. So they're putting it out there for anyone with capturing software to watch at their leisure?


I just don't think you can make enough money to support a big version of Hollywood with streaming.

I think the biggest boxing match charged like $75 for the evening's matches, and pulled in like $400 million.

Hollywood can't make big ticket blockbusters if the most it can make off them is $400 million.

True, they'd keep a big share of that $400 million, rather than splitting it 50/50 with theaters, but this still isn't enough money to support Hollywood As We Know It.

Plus: How many times per year will they have a big enough draw to make $400 million?

Add in piracy and forget it.

I think Hollywood is going to shrink, and salaries are going to shrink even more.

digg this
posted by Ace at 06:02 PM

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