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‘Tenet’ director Christopher Nolan absolutely roasts Warner Bros. and HBO Max

Director Christopher Nolan slammed Warner Bros. for its decision to release films on HBO Max and movie theaters at the same time

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JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON and ROBERT PATTINSON and in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action epic “TENET,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson in “Tenet.”

Melinda Sue Gordon, Warner Bros.

“Tenet” director Christopher Nolan recently criticized Warner Bros. recent decision to release its new lineup of films on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time.

What happened:

Warner Bros. recently announced that its 2021 slate of films on HBO Max on the same day that movies drop in theaters, which I wrote about for the Deseret News.

  • “No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do,” Ann Sarnoff, chairwoman and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks group, said. “We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021.”

But The New York Times reports that talent management and agencies learned about the Warner Bros. decision about 90 minutes before it became public.

This started a fire under Nolan.

What Nolan said:

Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter that this wasn’t fair to artists and talent.

  • “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 told ET Online that the secrecy really hurt people.

  • “There’s such controversy around it, because (Warner Bros.) didn’t tell anyone,” “In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences. They’re 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.”


Nolan has been a firm supporter for releasing films in movie theaters. In fact, Nolan had pushed over the summer for “Tenet” to be released in movie theaters, even though they had been shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Tenet” ended up getting released in theaters.

The film — despite the theater release — will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on Dec. 15.

“Tenet” cost about $200 million to make, according to The New York Times. The film brought in $57 million total in the U.S. box office, and $359 million total from the worldwide box office, showing that Americans remain uninterested in returning to movie theaters just yet.