UPDATED 12/10, 9:40 p.m. ET: Denis Villeneuve is slamming Warner Bros.' decision to simultaneously debut its 2021 films in theaters and on HBO Max.
The Dune director criticized the move in a newly penned essay published by Variety, arguing the primary motive behind the hybrid model was to please stakeholders.
"With this decision AT&T has hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history," he wrote. "There is absolutely no love for cinema, nor for the audience here. It is all about the survival of a telecom mammoth, one that is currently bearing an astronomical debt of more than $150 billion. Therefore, even though Dune is about cinema and audiences, AT&T is about its own survival on Wall Street."
Villeneuve says he understands the global pandemic has forced theaters to shut down out of the interest of public safety, but was content with the original plan of delaying film releases until the crisis was under control. He also acknowledges the ways streaming services have improved the entertainment industry; however, he emphasizes that they are no substitute for big-screen experiences.
"I strongly believe the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says," he continued. "Since the dawn of time, humans have deeply needed communal storytelling experiences. Cinema on the big screen is more than a business, it is an art form that brings people together, celebrating humanity, enhancing our empathy for one another — it’s one of the very last artistic, in-person collective experiences we share as human beings."
You can read Villeneuve's full essay here.
See the original story below.
Patty Jenkins understands the decision by Warner Bros. to debut all its 2021 films on HBO Max alongside their theatrical premieres. While the Wonder Woman 1984 director is a believer in the movie theater experience, she said the coronavirus left the studio with “no good option.”
Jenkins discussed the shocking announcement from the studio in a recent interview on SiriusXM Stars, noting the speed with which everything changed in the movie industry.
“If you had told me a year ago that we would ever go straight to streaming in any way, shape or form, I would have flipped out,” said Jenkins, who helmed Wonder Woman in 2017 and Monster in ’03. “I’m very pro-theatrical release and I will be that again, as soon as this is over.”
Wonder Woman 1984 will still see a theatrical release, but it will also be available on demand the same day. Jenkins gamed out possible outcomes and realized waiting until the pandemic ends and slugging it out in a rush to theaters would not be ideal either.
“It’s such a crazy year. It’s like all of us are trying to figure out with our lives, how to do everything the best we can. And so I kept saying there is no good option. Like when we would talk about it, there was no good option,” she said. “Wait until when? And then every movie in the world tries to come out at the same time.”
Jenkins is happy for the fans, though. She said, ultimately, she wants people to see the movie she worked on. For her, the plan is to “just try to reach people however they can see it.”
Jenkins’ take is pretty much the opposite of Christopher Nolan’s. The Tenet director has been pushing hard for theatrical releases in spite of the virus and called the Warner Bros. deal a “bait-and-switch” that bamboozled major directors.
"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.