It's safe to say that the decision by Warner Bros. to run its theatrical releases on HBO Max simultaneously in the US has caused itself a lot of problems.
From lawsuits to directors and actors speaking out on not being consulted, it's now beginning to look like the consequences are moving from words to actions. In an article by the Wall Street Journal, it's been reported that Christopher Nolan's next movie will likely not be at the studio.
The report goes on to say that one of the reasons for this was that Nolan was disappointed by their decision to go with the "hybrid distribution" strategy for 2021. In several interviews, Nolan made it clear that the decision by Warner Bros. to move from cinema to day-and-date on streaming wasn't just about the cinema experience, but in how the residual payments impacts not just actors and directors, but tradespeople further down the totem pole who survive on these as earnings.
The story goes that Warner Bros. went ahead with the decision to move all releases in 2021 to HBO Max and release them in cinemas at the same time without telling any of the directors, actors, or producers involved in said movies. The response was overwhelming negative from filmmakers, with Nolan in particular being the most vocal. In an interview with THR shortly after it happened, the director said that "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."
Box-office revenues in 2020 fell to record lows, going from $11.8 billion in 2019 to $2.8 billion in 2020. Here in Ireland, cinemas remain closed and are unlikely to reopen until March at the very earliest. Although the incoming US President, Joe Biden, has begun a series of initiatives to attempt to get the pandemic under control there, the rest of the world is still reeling from it with cinemas being the last thing on people's minds.