Legendary Entertainment Might Take Legal Action Against HBO Max

The FPS Review may receive a commission if you purchase something after clicking a link in this article.

Image: Legendary

It was only last week that WarnerMedia announced that it was going to release its entire 2021 film slate to HBO Max. What happens when you make a unilateral decision without full agreement from your business partners? Potential legal entanglements, that’s what. Deadline has reported on an interesting chain of events that are still in development. It should come as no surprise that the issue at hand is money, and who’s getting it versus who’s provided it.

At the center of this contentious event is longtime partner Legendary Entertainment, a principal financier of various WarnerMedia projects. Some of the movies coming to HBO Max (e.g., Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong) have large investments from Legendary. It’s reported that Legendary and its partners have provided around 75 percent of each film’s budget. For Dune, that comes out to around $124 million of the $165 million spent. Numbers for the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 have not been released, but Legendary is involved with it as well.

Legendary was not completely against releasing some movies to streaming services. It was reportedly working on a deal with Netflix to release Godzilla vs. Kong to the tune of $250 million, but when Warner made its decision, it blocked Legendary from making any deals involving movies slated for HBO Max. Legendary could be entering into a legal battle with Warner as a result. At the heart of this battle, both seem to agree that streaming could be a viable solution for releasing theatrical movies. It’s more about who’s getting what slice of the pie.

One final angle on this complex money game is backend deals. From marketing to bonuses for filmmakers and cast members, there are many fingers in the pot. Let’s not forget about the struggling theater industry. Even before the pandemic, there were chains experiencing financial challenges, and although Warner is planning to release these movies to theaters on the same day as its streaming service, it’s unlikely to help much. In light of that, it’s estimated that it would’ve only made perhaps $1 billion in profits from theatrical release under present conditions.

Peter Brosdahl
As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my dad, a used Atari 400, around 1982. Eventually it would end up being a lifelong passion of upgrading and modifying equipment that, of course, led into a career in IT support.

Recent News