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Warner Brothers recently announced that all of their upcoming films will be released to streaming on HBO Max at the same time they are released to theaters, much to the disappointment of those involved in the filmmaking process. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 was the first film to take this new release route, with other big name releases like Dune and Godzilla Vs. Kong following suit later this year. M. Night Shyamalan has joined in with those expressing their distaste for Warner Brothers’ new film releasing method.
This release tactic may be beneficial to Warner Brothers, HBO Max, and theater owners who have tired of new releases skipping theaters all together, but the filmmakers and talent have other feelings on the matter. In an interview M. Night Shyamalan gave to Fandom about his new Apple TV+ series, Servant, he touched on Warner Brothers’ decision to release all their upcoming films to HBO Max while they are also in available theaters. To say he is displeased would probably be an understatement, as Shyamalan sympathizes with filmmakers who were not included in this decision making process for their own creations. In his own words:
You only have to guess what my reaction is to that. I don’t support it at all. At all. And especially without talking to the filmmakers. Ridiculous. [It’s] obviously corporate-driven and I feel bad for all my colleagues that found out that way and are dealing with it now. That’s not the answer. That’s certainly not the answer, and I very much hope we will all be going back to the theaters soonish. Three months, four months, five months, whatever it is. And that both can co-exist; that we have high-end entertainment at home and we have high-end entertainment when we want to go out. There’s no need to cannibalise one for the other.
It seems M. Night Shyamalan is holding out hope that theaters will survive the pandemic, despite theaters around the country already closing again, and some of which have permanently shut down. While cinema owners may be slightly relieved they get a little piece of the pie, theaters miss out on even a small window of exclusivity with Warner Brothers' at-home streaming double-dipping.
The past year has put the majority of individuals in the industry in the same boat - and it’s not a pretty one. The pandemic has busted holes in everyone’s life raft, and even stolen an oar or two. The delays we have seen in new releases is just one consequence, complications with filming being another, and it has forced people in the industry to get creative. M. Night Shyamalan knows this, as he has also had to adjust his own plans during the filming of the second season of Servant. And, Warner Brothers' distribution tactic seems to be just another hit to filmmakers.
Director Denis Villeneuve had hoped to hold out for his new film, Dune, to have an extended stay in theaters before any steaming options opened, but in the end his efforts were thwarted by Warner Brothers' decision. The stars of Dune have stepped up in support of Villeneuve and voiced their unhappiness with the disregarded opinions of those who worked on the films distributed by Warner Brothers. It may be too late for some films, but the unpopular response of Warner Brothers' decision may deter other companies from following their lead.
Warner Brothers next new film, The Little Things, is set to open in theaters and HBO Max later this month. You can check out our updated 2021 movie schedule to keep up on other new releases.