legendary vs. warner
Movie theaters aren't happy with Warner Bros. for taking their 2021 films to HBO Max — and neither, it turns out, is the company behind two of the biggest films involved.
Legendary Entertainment, which co-financed Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune, "may take legal action against Warner Bros." after the studio announced it will debut those movies and the rest of its 2021 slate on HBO Max and in theaters simultaneously, Variety reports. Earlier on Monday, Deadline reported that Legendary "either has or will send legal letters to Warner Bros. as soon as today."
Legendary, Deadline also reported, "had no advance notice" prior to the major announcement last week from Warner Bros. that these 2021 films will debut on HBO Max on the same day that they come to theaters. Indeed, Variety reports Legendary "was largely kept out of the loop," and the company's concerns reportedly have to do both with the fact that it wasn't involved in this major decision and that it feels Warner Bros. "wasn't being transparent with its intentions." Netflix had reportedly been in talks to potentially purchase Godzilla vs. Kong for $250 million, but that deal was evidently blocked by WarnerMedia before Warner Bros. would later announce the movie was headed to HBO Max under this deal, according to Variety.
The Wrap adds that although Warner Bros. might be fine with sacrificing box office revenue to help drive subscriptions to HBO Max, Legendary "doesn't see any upside from that shift."
The HBO Max plan from Warner Bros. was seen a potentially industry-changing event last week, considering movie theaters have long relied on being the exclusive place viewers can watch new films, although Warner Bros. called this a "unique one-year plan." But Deadline writes that Legendary may have to grapple with the question of whether "the long-term viability of" its franchises may be "tarnished by starting out as an HBO Max offering."