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WarnerMedia Boss Regrets Rushing Into HBO Max Hybrid Release Deal

When WarnerMedia announced that the entire slate of Warner Bros. releases scheduled for 2021 would debut simultaneously on HBO Max, it sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Theaters had already been struggling with the effects of the pandemic, and now they were set to lose out on potential billions after the company gave audiences the option to watch some of the year's biggest movies from the comfort of their own home on day one.

When WarnerMedia announced that the entire slate of Warner Bros. releases scheduled for 2021 would debut simultaneously on HBO Max, it sent shockwaves throughout the industry. Theaters had already been struggling with the effects of the pandemic, and now they were set to lose out on potential billions after the company gave audiences the option to watch some of the year’s biggest movies from the comfort of their own home on day one.

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It generated considerable backlash from many of the studio’s creative talents, with Dune director Denis Villenueve openly blasting the call, while it’s also one of the major reasons why Christopher Nolan has taken his next film to Universal, marking the first time in over 20 years he’s worked with any other outfit than WB.

At the Vox Media’s Code Conference via The Hollywood Reporter, CEO Jason Kilar admitted that he’d rushed into the decision, and regrets that he didn’t discuss WarnerMedia’s intentions with the key creatives involved in the films set to suffer a significant loss in earnings as a result.

“I will be the first one to say, and the responsibility rests on my shoulders, that, in hindsight, we should have taken the better part of a month to have over 170 conversations, which is the number of participants that are in our 2021 film slate. We tried to do that in a compressed period of time, less than a week, because of course there was going to be leaks there was going to be everybody opining on whether we should do this or not do this. We said from the start that we were going to treat every single film as a blockbuster, from an economic perspective, for participants, that we were going to be fair and generous, we were going to do the right thing. The good news is we did, and we worked our tail ends off to do that. And we’re now in a very good situation.”

It was widely reported in the aftermath that stars including Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Angelina Jolie and Keanu Reeves weren’t best pleased at being kept out of the loop, especially when Wonder Woman 1984 duo Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot landed bonuses of at least $10 million each when the DCEU sequel was sent to streaming in December of last year. It’s back to normal in 2022, though, with WarnerMedia confirming the hybrid model is off the table once we hit January 1.


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