'Tenet' director Christopher Nolan blasts Warner Bros. decision to debut movies on HBO Max, 'the worst streaming service'

  • Director Christopher Nolan has spoken out against Warner Bros.' decision to release all its 2021 movies on the HBO Max streaming platform alongside theaters, saying it makes "no economic sense."
  • Nolan, who has an 18-year history with Warner Bros., also called HBO Max "the worst streaming service" in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
  • As well as disappointing directors and movie stars, the move could devastate theaters, who have already been hit hard by the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Christopher Nolan has slammed Warner Bros.' decision to release all its 2021 movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, which he dubbed "the worst streaming service."

The move, announced Thursday, made "no economic sense" and was a shock to filmmakers and movie stars alike, the "Tenet" director told The Hollywood Reporter. Nolan has an 18-year history with Warner Bros.

The announcement was seen as a major blow to US theaters, who usually get to show a movie for 75 days before it can debut on streaming services. The movies will be available on HBO Max for one month — they'll continue to play in theaters after that.

While the plan is, for now, only for 2021, it could have major and permanent ramifications for Hollywood.

"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," Nolan said.

"Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker's work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don't even understand what they're losing."

He added that the move was not a "disruption" of the market, but a "dysfunction."

The announcement currently impacts 17 movies, including "The Suicide Squad," "Godzilla vs. Kong," "The Matrix 4," and "Dune."

As well as upsetting key members of the film-making industry, the move could devastate movie theaters, which have already been ravaged by the pandemic.

Even before Warner made its announcement, "Wonder Woman 1984" director Patty Jenkins warned that "we could lose movie theater-going forever" because of the advent of straight-to-streaming.

"This will not be a reversible process," she added.

The decision came just three months after the studio debuted Nolan's "Tenet" in cinemas to a disappointing US box office release — which could have been a factor behind Warner Bros.' streaming decision.

Nolan first work with Warner Bros. for the release of "Insomnia" in 2002, and has made 13 films with them since, including "Dunkirk," "Interstellar," and "Inception."

Read more: HBO Max's chief breaks down the seismic decision to stream all 2021 Warner Bros. movies as they hit theaters and responds to speculation about 2022 and beyond

"Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker's work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak," he said.

"They don't even understand what they're losing."

During a separate interview with ET, Nolan called Warner's controversial move "very, very, very, very messy. A real bait and switch."

"They're [Warner Bros.] meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences. And now they're being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service — for the fledgling streaming service — without any consultation," he said.

"It's sort of not how you treat filmmakers and stars and people who these guys have given a lot for these projects. They deserved to be consulted and spoken to about what was going to happen to their work."

The move might act as a strong boost for HBO Max, which has struggled to convert traditional HBO customers into subscribers, and shows that the streaming service is one of the company's top priorities.

HBO Max was launched in May to compete with Netflix Inc and Disney+, but the platform has had a rocky start.

It has 57 million subscribers globally, compared to Netflix's 195.2 million, and is yet to strike a deal with Roku, one of the largest streaming distributors.

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