Ever since Warner Brothers made the announcement that every single one of their 2021 theatrical film releases would see a simultaneous release on HBO Max and in theaters, the internet has been in flames. For good reason, too, I might add–the decision has huge implications for both streamers and theaters alike.
So far, the reaction to the situation has been … mixed. Many fans were excited at the prospect of a year with more than 5 major film releases, and happy that they’ll have easy access to these movies. Even if audiences still feel unsafe going to theater, fans can still watch their favorite cinematic properties.
Remember when “Tenet” was billed as the coming savior of movie theaters? Well, that was a year ago, and it didn’t exactly live up to the hype. Christopher Nolan is a bonafide cinema junkie who to date has released all but two of his films through Warner Brothers. Nolan called Warner’s announcement a “bait and switch.” Now there’s rumors he may bail on Warner Bros. and hit the free agent market. Other studio executives are salivating at the thought of potentially nabbing Nolan so much that the L.A. river is purportedly flowing again.
Then there’s Disney. To say the House of Mouse is presently on shaky ground is an understatement.
In late July, Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for breach of contract over “Black Widow’s” day and date digital release. Johansson’s attorneys allege that the star’s contract was breached when the studio opted not to debut the film exclusively in theaters, which they claim decreased ticket sales for the Avengers spinoff.
Part of Johansson’s compensation was based on ticket sales, of course, meaning she may have lost out on millions of dollars in pay. That won’t sit well with her, or any other mega stars who participate in Disney’s myriad mega properties.
In the end, Disney will most likely pay off Johansson to the tune of eight figures in an effort to keep everything copacetic. Marvel is worth billions at this point and Disney can’t afford to lose the faces of their most prized characters.
As for how this all shakes out for Warners, Nolan, Disney, Johansson, and audiences alike … well … only time will tell.
P.S. On the same day this post was written, Disney announced that the remainder of their 2021 movie slate would be released into theaters. Nice!