As Hollywood fumes over WarnerMedia’s move to go all-in on streaming, Disney offers a more hybrid approach

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When WarnerMedia announced all of its 2021 movies would stream on HBO Max the same day they open in theaters, Hollywood was blindsided. Now the industry is starting to speak out. 

In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Nolan blasted Warner Bros., his longtime home studio, and called HBO Max the worst streaming service. 

The Directors Guild of America, which rarely gets involved in Hollywood squabbles, sent a strongly worded letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, demanding a meeting with her over the unilateral changes to the release plans for the studio’s 2021 slate of films.  

The powerful agency CAA sent a letter to WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar saying the surprise announcement was “entirely unacceptable to CAA and to the clients we represent.” 

WarnerMedia has said it's only doing this because of the pandemic, but with vaccines on the horizon, it doesn’t seem like most theaters will be closed for the entirety of 2021. The sense in the business is that WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar doesn’t have any intention of putting the streaming genie back in the bottle. 

The WarnerMedia move stands in stark contrast to Disney’s recently announced plans for its upcoming movies and series. Many of them will premiere on the streaming service Disney+, but the big ones will still open in theaters first, before going to streaming. Many of their streaming series will be spin-offs of popular films that have been theatrical successes in years past. The film “Raya and the Last Dragon” will open in theaters as well as be available for an additional $30 charge on Disney+ through a service called Disney Premier Access.




Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker