Dec 8, 2020 - Economy

Hollywood engulfed by streaming drama

A gif of the Hollywood sign

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer. Photo: David Livingston/GC Images

The release of the entire Warner Bros. 2021 film slate on HBO Max at the same time that the films debut in theaters has sent Hollywood into a frenzy.

Why it matters: Creators feel misled about its release strategy and worry that a simultaneous release could mean less cash for them.

  • Christopher Nolan told The Hollywood Reporter yesterday: "Their decision makes no economic sense, and even the most casual Wall Street investor can see the difference between disruption and dysfunction.”
  • Nolan pushed theaters to open Labor Day weekend to debut his film "Tenet," but its performance was so bad it pushed studios to delay more releases.

The big picture: The pandemic has caused entertainment giants to embrace streaming faster than most were prepared to do, resulting in lots of reshuffling at top companies and heightened tension between studios, creators, and theaters.

  • There's been major clashes at AT&T over whether top execs were right to dismantle operations at WarnerMedia — including its crown jewel HBO — in an effort to build a broader competitor to Netflix, per CNBC's Alex Sherman.
  • Disney's focus on Disney+ has put Hulu on the back-burner, per the FT.
  • ViacomCBS has started axing some of its smaller streaming services to focus on Paramount+ next year.

Yes, but: Disney, ViacomCBS, and others all face the same dilemma: While their futures are tied to streaming, their current profits are tied to businesses in terminal decline — theaters and traditional television.

What to watch: Discovery+ launched with lots of positive press this week. The streaming service aims to be complimentary to platforms like Netflix, by focusing on unscripted series.

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