Decision scandal WarnerMedia make all of the company’s films released in 2023 exclusive to the streaming platform HBO Max continues to gain momentum. The outcome of the conflict can greatly affect the landscape in Hollywood.
Let us recall the background. In November it was announced that the film “Wonder Woman 1984“will be an exclusive HBO Max. The scheme is as follows: on December 25, the tape will be available for viewing to all subscribers, as well as in a number of cinemas. A month after the premiere, the film will be removed from the service catalog, it will be possible to watch it only in cinemas (in Russia, the show will start in January) The tape is then returned to the library.
This scheme now applies to all major WarnerMedia releases in 2023: “Matrix 4“,”Dune“,”Suicide squad 2“,”Godzilla vs. Kong“,”Tom and Jerry“,”Space Jam: The Next Generation“, Mortal kombat, “King Richard“,”Conjuration 3: By the Will of the Devil” etc.
As the head of WarnerMedia said Ann Sarnoff, the company believes that cinemas in the United States will operate with restrictions for most of 2023. Therefore, a “hybrid model” was used.
A similar maneuver was met with hostility by the Hollywood elite, for whom the announcement came as a complete surprise. According to Sarnoff, the company did not even communicate with consultants and filmmakers in order to avoid any leaks.
The owners of large cinema chains, which are only a few months away from bankruptcy, were enraged (for example, AMC Theaters). They are now seriously considering sabotaging all Warner Bros. movie rentals, in which tickets for the show will be given away at approximately five dollars.
The Directors Guild of America is also indignant, which threatened to boycott WarnerMedia. The fact is that Warner Bros. for a long time it was considered by filmmakers as the most comfortable place to work, where they allow you to create with minimal restrictions. Sounds a bit ironic given the constant scandals surrounding the DCU.
Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve, Patty Jenkins, Zach Snyder and others have already criticized the company’s decision. There was even a joke that Warner Bros. now worth calling “Former Bros.“(former brothers).
The matter is not limited to criticism. As the chapter told Sony pictures Tony Vinsikerra, now there is a surge of interest in his studio from directors who are interested specifically in theatrical releases.
“The real benefit was the number of calls from talent, creators, actors and directors saying, ‘We want to collaborate because we know that you are a theater distributor and producer,’ said Vinsikerra.
This is pretty easy to explain. Despite the progressive agenda, Hollywood itself remains a rather conservative and clumsy colossus that is not ready to bend under the circumstances. But the pandemic dictates its own rules of the game, which is extremely displeasing to many filmmakers, who still disdain the potential of streaming services.
The same Nolan literally forced WarnerMedia to release his “Argument“in theaters, hoping to restart the industry. As a result, the film was severely undersized.
And the generous bonuses for those involved in the production of Wonder Woman 1984 (they were calculated as if the tape had already grossed a billion dollars at the box office) did not affect the skepticism of Patty Jenkins, who doubts that a third of her will see the light of day.
At the same time, even before the release on HBO Max, it became clear that the sequel had already failed. The box office in China was well below analysts’ expectations, who now predict Wonder Woman 1984 will raise just around $ 30 million in the main theater market in 2023. In other countries, fees are much lower given the restrictions due to the pandemic.
There are problems of a different nature. The fact is that on HBO Max there should be films that WarnerMedia itself did not finance 100%. It is a common practice that several production companies and film studios share production costs to reduce risks. But this also creates problems.
It’s about films like Dune Denis Villeneuve and “Godzilla vs. Kong” Adam Wingard… Financial investments in the production of these tapes from WarmerMedia are minimal, and the main costs fell on the partner represented by Legendary Entertainment… And this studio is ready to sue.
Legendary Entertainment executives said WarmerMedia prevented the studio from making a better deal with Netflix… In addition, the company loses a significant share of profits, limiting rental (HBO Max is still available in only a few regions).
Denis Villeneuve is especially outraged, hoping to turn “Dune” into a trilogy. The release on HBO Max does not leave him a chance for the development of the franchise, so Legendary Entertainment threatens lawsuits and demands to abandon the hybrid rental model in favor of the usual. According to insiders, Warner Bros. may well make concessions in this case.
There is one important thing to understand here. HBO Max is an outsider in the streaming war. The service audience is more than two times lower than that of Disney +, and his “Mandalorian“WarnerMedia doesn’t have it yet. It should be.”Justice League“ Zach Snyder, which is still in production.
Stagnation poses a serious threat to the future AT&T (owns WanrerMedia), which has made a huge investment in HBO Max. The corporation also has over $ 150 billion in debt.
Therefore, the head of AT&T John Stankey ready to go all-in, despite threats from Hollywood bigwigs. In the end, bad PR is PR, and HBO Max is in dire need of public attention.
Even Disney cannot guarantee the profitability of its major films due to the hybrid model. It showed “Mulan“that barely hit the budget. Disney + has a significantly larger audience than HBO Max, and Mickey Mouse introduced a premium subscription ($ 30) for access to theatrical release.
However, streaming services are a hot topic in the financial markets. Although Disney reported multibillion-dollar losses this fall, the company’s stock is up. Why? Because the dynamics of audience growth Hulu and Disney + exceeded analyst expectations. The paradox is that streaming is a long-term investment, but companies desperately need money here and now.
Therefore, Disney is not yet ready to go the WarnerMedia path, trying to save big Marvel films for cinemas. However, the transition to a new model is inevitable, and companies are restructuring their entire business, bringing streaming divisions forward. In such conditions, budget cuts are inevitable, because a model with films that should collect a billion dollars at the box office is not viable in a pandemic.
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