Image: Warner Bros.

While many of us are ecstatic at the fact that we get to enjoy Warner Bros.’ entire slate of 2021 blockbusters in the comfort of our homes, critically acclaimed auteur Christopher Nolan isn’t one of those people. In a scathing statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, the Memento and Dark Knight Trilogy director expressed his belief that sending films straight to streaming is an insult and betrayal of the cinematic art form.

“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’s statement reads.

“Warner Bros. had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theaters and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. They don’t even understand what they’re losing. Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”

Unfortunately for Nolan, WarnerMedia parent AT&T remains firm on the plan despite impending legal challenges. During today’s investor conference, CEO John Stankey demonstrated enthusiasm for WB’s plan to debut films simultaneously in theaters and HBO Max, noting that it was a “win-win-win” decision for not only the company, but consumers as well.

What’s ironic and sad is that Tenet’s relatively dismal box office performance may have paved the way for Warner’s radical plan to move its biggest features straight to streaming. Nolan had used his time-bending action thriller as a vehicle to open theaters back up amid the coronavirus epidemic and encourage people to return to theaters, but it only ended up with a paltry domestic gross of $57 million. (In comparison, Dunkirk and Interstellar both made around $188 million domestically.)

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27 Comments

  1. There won’t be any death of cinema. There might be a death of the blockbuster… And that is very questionable, as the opposite might be true, and things come back with a vengeance.
    Streaming won’t kill a thing… I have changed my opinion many times, mostly cause these articles come and go, and I put it a few seconds of reaction thinking on it for fun, but i think in the end, Cinema is about getting out of the house, and do something elsewhere, plus a movie and so on. ( Others mentioned this, and i think this is ultimately what it will be )
    A re thinking of an industry is not ‘ the death’ IDK where I read it if saw it, but if the blockbuster concept dies that might be actually a revival of cinema, with, you know less mouse garbage, and more attempts at something with some depth and art for less money.

  2. I don’t know with the costs of special effects dropping to a point that home consumers can add passable special effects to video then the need for massive special effects budgets is also disappearing. I like my sci fi and super hero popcorn flicks. And yes I love momento and other thought provoking movies too. You can have both. Christopher Nolan needs to step the hell back and understand the entertainment industry is changing. I bet you this is more a “I don’t get percentage of streaming money.” Than a “oh no the arts”.

  3. This guy was complaining about streaming long, long, before the pandemic and just needs to get over it. I agree that theaters will make a comeback and the industry is changing. It has been for a while and those at the top of the food chain refused to accept it. It was already imploding over the last decade. If not for various Marvel and other franchises they would’ve already. There’s plenty of numbers out there to prove it. Every time ticket sales dropped to epic lows they only bounced back when a major superhero or SW, or Harry Potter thing showed up to save them. Even as people complained about them, they were the breadwinners and not his hoity-toity ideals. Even his own DK trilogy was a part of that phenomenon. Sure there were a couple of standouts to get around $200 million but many barely made it past $40-80 million, if that.

    Since all the hype of piracy being the source of lost revenue for theaters, people have been stating a new means of delivery needs to be explored and the pandemic merely brought it to the forefront. Before that conversations would occasionally get started but when one of those new superhero blockbusters brought in a half-billion or more they stopped. Now they don’t have that luxury. It stopped after the last Marvel movies and not long after that numbers plummeted and then came the pandemic. TImes were going to change with or without him and even though I agree WB probably could’ve done a better job with their deals with their partners, he needs to understand what the industry has already become.

    People will still go to theaters at some point but things are not like they used to be. I also agree something is lost if viewed on a smaller screen. I’m fortunate enough to have both mobile tech to 4k t.v.’s and a 4K projector on a roughly 200-300″ wall so it’s easy to do direct comparisons for the effect. Watching something on mobile and all sense of a theatrical feel is lost so I can understand the disparity of a filmmaker’s vision with streaming.

  4. [QUOTE=”Uvilla, post: 25122, member: 397″]
    There won’t be any death of cinema. There might be a death of the blockbuster… And that is very questionable, as the opposite might be true, and things come back with a vengeance.
    Streaming won’t kill a thing… I have changed my opinion many times, mostly cause these articles come and go, and I put it a few seconds of reaction thinking on it for fun, but i think in the end, Cinema is about getting out of the house, and do something elsewhere, plus a movie and so on. ( Others mentioned this, and i think this is ultimately what it will be )
    A re thinking of an industry is not ‘ the death’ IDK where I read it if saw it, but if the blockbuster concept dies that might be actually a revival of cinema, with, you know less mouse garbage, and more attempts at something with some depth and art for less money.
    [/QUOTE]
    Movie theathers were already on life support even before the pandemic, they will need to reinvent themselves to survive. The move from AT&T is something thats been requested since movies on BETA/VHS came out.

    I think the only saving grace would actually be the big blockbusters, that’s the only real reason to go watch a movie on the bigscreen. Do you really want to go to the movies to watch a teen drama, independent film, chickflick or comedy? Of course not, you want to see the next predator, starwars, marvel, alien, harry potter, LOTR, Avatar, John Wick.

  5. [QUOTE=”Peter_Brosdahl, post: 25136, member: 87″]
    This guy was complaining about streaming long, long, before the pandemic and just needs to get over it. I agree that theaters will make a comeback and the industry is changing. It has been for a while and those at the top of the food chain refused to accept it. It was already imploding over the last decade. If not for various Marvel and other franchises they would’ve already. There’s plenty of numbers out there to prove it. Every time ticket sales dropped to epic lows they only bounced back when a major superhero or SW, or Harry Potter thing showed up to save them. Even as people complained about them, they were the breadwinners and not his hoity-toity ideals. Even his own DK trilogy was a part of that phenomenon. Sure there were a couple of standouts to get around $200 million but many barely made it past $40-80 million, if that.

    Since all the hype of piracy being the source of lost revenue for theaters, people have been stating a new means of delivery needs to be explored and the pandemic merely brought it to the forefront. Before that conversations would occasionally get started but when one of those new superhero blockbusters brought in a half-billion or more they stopped. Now they don’t have that luxury. It stopped after the last Marvel movies and not long after that numbers plummeted and then came the pandemic. TImes were going to change with or without him and even though I agree WB probably could’ve done a better job with their deals with their partners, he needs to understand what the industry has already become.

    People will still go to theaters at some point but things are not like they used to be. I also agree something is lost if viewed on a smaller screen. I’m fortunate enough to have both mobile tech to 4k t.v.’s and a 4K projector on a roughly 200-300″ wall so it’s easy to do direct comparisons for the effect. Watching something on mobile and all sense of a theatrical feel is lost so I can understand the disparity of a filmmaker’s vision with streaming.
    [/QUOTE]
    It’s a service issue just as gaben said with video games and piracy.
    [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 25143, member: 1474″]
    Movie theathers were already on life support even before the pandemic, they will need to reinvent themselves to survive. The move from AT&T is something thats been requested since movies on BETA/VHS came out.

    I think the only saving grace would actually be the big blockbusters, that’s the only real reason to go watch a movie on the bigscreen. Do you really want to go to the movies to watch a teen drama, independent film, chickflick or comedy? Of course not, you want to see the next predator, starwars, marvel, alien, harry potter, LOTR, Avatar, John Wick.
    [/QUOTE]
    I will see any kind of movie in the theater if I think it is worth my time. I am probably in the minority, though.

  6. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 25144, member: 180″]
    It’s a service issue just as gaben said with video games and piracy.

    I will see any kind of movie in the theater if I think it is worth my time. I am probably in the minority, though.
    [/QUOTE]
    There is a reason most drama/comedies are going the likes of netflix/appleTV/Amazonprime.

    I remember the last time I saw hundreds of people getting in line to watch “The Fault in Our Stars “… NOT!!!!

  7. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 25124, member: 215″]
    I bet you this is more a “I don’t get percentage of streaming money.” Than a “oh no the arts”.
    [/QUOTE]

    You might be on to something there.

  8. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 25124, member: 215″]
    Christopher Nolan needs to step the hell back and understand the entertainment industry is changing. I bet you this is more a “I don’t get percentage of streaming money.” Than a “oh no the arts”.
    [/QUOTE]

    I’ve heard similar complaints again since the BETA/VHS era, then Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray… It’s aways about the dinero.

  9. [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 25148, member: 1474″]
    I’ve heard similar complaints again since the BETA/VHS era, then Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray… It’s aways about the dinero.
    [/QUOTE]
    To be fair, the art form can’t exist without the money. But they don’t need the billions that they have come to expect in this day and age. In my opinion the movie industry is long overdue for a downscaling, just like the video game industry.

  10. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 25152, member: 180″]
    To be fair, the art form can’t exist without the money. But they don’t need the billions that they have come to expect in this day and age. In my opinion the movie industry is long overdue for a downscaling, just like the video game industry.
    [/QUOTE]
    Video game downscaling? game developement budget has skyrocketed, it even surpases some movies.

  11. [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 25155, member: 1474″]
    Video game downscaling? game developement budget has skyrocketed, it even surpases some movies.
    [/QUOTE]
    I didn’t say it was downscaling, I said it was overdue for it.

  12. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 25152, member: 180″]
    To be fair, the art form can’t exist without the money. But they don’t need the billions that they have come to expect in this day and age. In my opinion the movie industry is long overdue for a downscaling, just like the video game industry.
    [/QUOTE]
    Wholeheartedly agree. I was thinking about it right after I made that post. Costs need to come down. Most families cannot afford to drop the better part of $100 to take mom&dad and 2 or 3 kiddos plus some beverages at current prices. Everyone knows that’s where the bulk of income comes for big dollar movies as well. Individuals account for very small percentages by comparison. If they can’t rely on blockbusters to carry the load they need to look at reigning things in. I somehow doubt folks like Chris are going to accept their paychecks getting cut though.

  13. You don’t need 5000 theaters to show your “art” – you only need 1. Any showing past that is just … money.

    That said, Armenius is right, money helps make art – but good art isn’t necessarily defined by how much money is spent in the creation of it.

  14. [QUOTE=”Peter_Brosdahl, post: 25159, member: 87″]
    Wholeheartedly agree. I was thinking about it right after I made that post. Costs need to come down. Most families cannot afford to drop the better part of $100 to take mom&dad and 2 or 3 kiddos plus some beverages at current prices. Everyone knows that’s where the bulk of income comes for big dollar movies as well. Individuals account for very small percentages by comparison. If they can’t rely on blockbusters to carry the load they need to look at reigning things in. I somehow doubt folks like Chris are going to accept their paychecks getting cut though.
    [/QUOTE]
    To be fair, the food and drink is how the theaters make money and stay afloat. Only the leasing fees and ticket sales go to the movie studio. But it is a two-way street: Theaters cannot continue to operate without people coming in and buying concessions, and the bigger the blockbuster the more people you have coming in. At the same time the theaters cannot afford to lease new releases, which decreases ticket sales going back to the movie studios. Concessions are expensive and go up in price due to Hollywood demanding even more money.

  15. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 25161, member: 180″]
    To be fair, the food and drink is how the theaters make money and stay afloat. Only the leasing fees and ticket sales go to the movie studio. But it is a two-way street: Theaters cannot continue to operate without people coming in and buying concessions, and the bigger the blockbuster the more people you have coming in. At the same time the theaters cannot afford to lease new releases, which decreases ticket sales going back to the movie studios. Concessions are expensive and go up in price due to Hollywood demanding even more money.
    [/QUOTE]

    If only technology had a way to proper track movie ticket sales to the individual seats sold so the movie theaters and studios could accurste pay out for movies… there simply must be a way.

    Yea thst was sarcasm.

    Watch for studios to have their own theaters. Its coming.

  16. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 25162, member: 215″]
    If only technology had a way to proper track movie ticket sales to the individual seats sold so the movie theaters and studios could accurste pay out for movies… there simply must be a way.

    Yea thst was sarcasm.

    Watch for studios to have their own theaters. Its coming.
    [/QUOTE]
    With the Paramount Rule now gone it is inevitable that we’ll see exclusive theaters when the industry recovers.

  17. [QUOTE=”Armenius, post: 25165, member: 180″]
    With the Paramount Rule now gone it is inevitable that we’ll see exclusive theaters when the industry recovers.
    [/QUOTE]
    Wonder what the odds are the Chris, Scorsese, and friends, try to get their own thing going now that ecosystem is in flux?

  18. Sounds like someone fucked up their contract talks. They really didn’t see streaming coming pandemic or not? :rolleyes:

    Don’t kid yourselves, Nolan, Scorsese et al. don’t give a rats ass about the theaters. They just want to make sure that if there’s 4 butts on a couch, they get revenue from all 4, and not just 1 streaming account.

  19. Who is this guy again?

    The movie theater as part of the cultural norm that we have known for almost a hundred years is over.

    Theaters will still be around, but they will become niche things.

    Theaters were already in trouble 5 years ago as more and more people prefer to watch things at home. The whole COVID thgin may just be the Coup de Grace. There might be a little bump after the pandemic is over, as people feel like going out for any reason at all, as they are sick of being home, but that will be short term. The theater business is not going to return to what it was.

    Theaters on paper are a better experience. Bigger higher quality screens, better sound, etc. In practice that is rarely the case though. Tons of stinky strangers crinkling bags, sticking their ugly heads in your view, playing with their phones, etc. etc. That and if you are watching a three and a half hour film while drinking a large soda you either have to choose between missing parts of the film while running to the bathroom, or holding it until you feel like you are going to burst.

    At home you can pause whenever you want. Go to the bathroom, make another lovely adult beverage, you name it. And you never have to deal with those other people. Nice home theater systems are getting more and more affordable too. Most may not quite hit movie theater level, but you can get close enough that it’s just not worth fighting the crowds, paying $15 for a soda, and holding your pee.

    There are 3 major things people generally care about in the consumer space. Listed in the order of typical consumer behaviors, they are:
    1.) Convenience
    2.) Cost
    3.) Quality

    Theaters only win in the quality argument, and even then, only when you ignore the shortcomings of dealing with other people ruining that quality experience.

    People usually say they care about quality, but regardless of what they are buying, when push comes to shove convenience and cost almost always wind up winning.

    The one thing that was keeping people coming to theaters was the whole initial exclusivity thing. People are silly and for some reason always feel the need to see the newest thing as soon as it is released, even though it is the same 6 months or a year later. If this Warner Brothers and HBO Max thing is more than just a temporary blip in an unusual pandemic year, they have lost that exclusivity, and the whole house of cards will soon come tumbling down.

    There will still be a few theaters sprinkled around high population areas, but going forward they will almost certainly become a niche

    The only problem I have with all of this is if major films start optimizing for the average home experience, which is a shitty discount TV from Target, using the built in speakers for sound. If release quality suffers because that is now the majority target audience, it will be a huge disappointment.

  20. Waiting for theaters to offer a full vr experience. You walk in. Get a seat and a beverage. Get a bad ass vr headset that they clean and maintain. Then watch the movie with the ability to pause and leave tonsue the restroom then return to your vr cocoon to finish the movie with drink and food brought to you. A 2 hour movie they paid with a 1/2 hour of break time and its by vr cocoon not theater seat. All feeds are max quality streamed from local in house servers.

    Of course some body is going to ruin it by tipping hot waitress for extra services.

  21. I never understood the fascination with movie theaters. I hated them, much better to watch any movie from the convenience of my home. So if theaters go dodo? Good riddance, maybe, maybe then movie making will become a regular business like actual essential services where the involved don’t make millions in a few weeks of work, but only get a regular salary like the rest of us.

  22. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 25192, member: 96″]
    I demand more theaters with full drink service.
    [/QUOTE]

    Those are pretty common around me (DFW). The niche theaters like Alamo Drafthouse of course, and the Studio Movie Grill types (I don’t like them, most are sh!tty). The AMC and Cinemark started offering adult bevs too, but $10 for a Bud light or a crappily made cocktail isn’t worth it. They literally charge strip club prices for their drinks.

    I used to just sneak a flask in, but one time I broke one (a nice metal one) and it leaked bourbon all into my pants. That was a fun movie, sitting in wet pants and smelling like a bum the whole time.

  23. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 25204, member: 215″]
    Waiting for theaters to offer a full vr experience. You walk in. Get a seat and a beverage. Get a bad *** vr headset that they clean and maintain. Then watch the movie with the ability to pause and leave tonsue the restroom then return to your vr cocoon to finish the movie with drink and food brought to you. A 2 hour movie they paid with a 1/2 hour of break time and its by vr cocoon not theater seat. All feeds are max quality streamed from local in house servers.

    Of course some body is going to ruin it by tipping hot waitress for extra services.
    [/QUOTE]

    Man I dunno that I want to use community VR gear…. eww. Kinda like that time we went snorkling around Bahamas and all the gear got “cleaned” by throwing into a barrel of nasty “soap” water. (If I ever do that again I’m taking my own snorkel at the least)

  24. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 25204, member: 215″]
    Waiting for theaters to offer a full vr experience. You walk in. Get a seat and a beverage. Get a bad *** vr headset that they clean and maintain. Then watch the movie with the ability to pause and leave tonsue the restroom then return to your vr cocoon to finish the movie with drink and food brought to you. A 2 hour movie they paid with a 1/2 hour of break time and its by vr cocoon not theater seat. All feeds are max quality streamed from local in house servers.

    Of course some body is going to ruin it by tipping hot waitress for extra services.
    [/QUOTE]
    Peewee Herman

  25. [QUOTE=”Zarathustra, post: 25188, member: 203″]
    Who is this guy again?
    [/QUOTE]

    A self indulgent director and doesn’t realise how terrible parts of his end product is with regards to editing, scripting, dialog and sound mixing.

    Despite the amount of time he’s been in the industry, he still has problems with basic spatial and temporal coherency within scenes but at least between [I]The Dark Knight[/I] and [I]Dunkirk[/I] there has been some progress toward the bare fucking minimum.

    The degree to which he relies to this day on blaring Zimmermusik, convoluted plotting and frenetic audiovisual chaos to overwhelm the audience’s critical faculties and keep them from noticing shoddy scene construction is kind of hilarious.

    Dude is Hollywood’s primo hack auteur, IMNSHO.

    It’s alright to enjoy Nolan films for the dumb spectacles that they are but there’s this prevailing notion that he’s a [I]great filmmaker[/I] which really needs to die. He’s a pseudo-intellectual Michael Bay (before which he was a pseudo-intellectual M. Night Shyamalan) with arguably less visual talent.

  26. [QUOTE=”rat, post: 25372, member: 327″]
    Dude is Hollywood’s primo hack auteur, IMNSHO.
    [/QUOTE]

    I think that would be Michael Bay. And during the 90’s he was a big name director before he turned into a running joke.

    Also let’s not forget that it is a Nolan mandate that every movie be an hour too long. I don’t think he’s made a movie since Memento (which was one of his first movies) that was under 2 hours.

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