Warner Bros.’ decision to release its entire 2021 slate of movies on HBO Max on the same day they came out in theaters was arguably one of the best things to happen that year (the first COVID vaccines are a close second), but that might only be the case for regular people who really wanted to see, say, Mortal Kombat but weren’t necessarily willing to risk going out into the COVID-infested public just to see, say, Mortal Kombat. In fact, the deal was deeply frustrating to a lot of people in Hollywood with established relationships with Warner Bros., so much so that it drove Christopher Nolan—one of the only filmmakers with an actual blank check from WB—into the waiting arms of Universal. Now, after pretty much immediately expressing its frustration over the deal, Legendary Entertainment has also ditched Warner Bros. for a new distribution partner.
According to Variety, Legendary is now teaming up with Sony Picture to release its films, explaining in a press release that both it and Sony share an “ongoing commitment to theatrical distribution as a driver for other ‘downstream’ windows and the theatrical window’s long-term value for films.” So yeah, that statement might as well have just said “we’re mad about the HBO Max thing so we’re dumping Warner Bros. for Sony.”
In 2021, the Legendary movies that Warner Bros. put on HBO Max (after WB supposedly giving the studio 30 whole minutes of notice) included Godzilla Vs. Kong and Dune, which were two of Warner Bros.’ biggest hits that year—even with the streaming release. Interestingly, Variety says that this new Legendary/Sony deal does not impact “select existing projects” between Legendary and Warner Bros., including Dune: Part Two, but it seems somewhat unlikely that we’ll get many Dune sequels beyond that (to say nothing of the future of the Kong/Godzilla Monsterverse, which now seems a little shaky).
And now, with both Nolan and Legendary leaving Warner Bros., that’s two seemingly crucial relationships that have been completely burned for the sake of boosting a streaming service that the current leadership at what is now Warner Bros. Discovery couldn’t give less of a shit about. It’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face, except you also cut off your ears and also you’re planning on dumping the whole face eventually as a tax write-off.