Unsurprisingly, theater owners did not react well to the news that Warner Bros. will be releasing their entire slate of 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day that they arrive on the big screen, and you can fully understand why after 2020 has devastated the industry and reduced takings to the lowest they’ve been for a very long time.
For example, a family of four would be much better off financially paying a relatively small monthly subscription fee for HBO Max rather than shelling out for a full set of cinema tickets, and studios with their own streaming service are already scooping up all the profits instead of having to split them with theater chains, which is one of the non-political reasons that the decision to send Mulan straight to Disney Plus caused so much backlash.
Legendary Pictures are the latest to kick up a stink, and the production company could even be set to launch legal action against Warner Bros. after failing to be consulted about the decision to include Godzilla vs. Kong in the HBO Max lineup. The latest reports claim that Legendary were ready to sell the movie to Netflix for $250 million before WB blocked the deal, only to announce a week or so later that it was going to their own service.
This is where things get complicated from a legal perspective, because Warner Bros. are the distributors and control when, where and how the movie is released, but Legendary and their various business partners covered 75% of Godzilla vs. Kong‘s hefty $200 million budget, which gives them a solid argument should the disagreement be taken to the courtroom.
Legendary are also concerned about the impact that the inevitable drop in box office takings could have on them financially, because there’s no chance that any Warner Bros. release pulls in anything close to the numbers usually expected when viewers can catch them at home. It remains to be seen what’ll happen, but at this stage, Godzilla vs. Kong has been hit with so many setbacks that a legal battle wouldn’t even come as much of a surprise.