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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.

Go deeper

Dec 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

2020's been a breakout year for creators

Expand chart
Data: Apptopia; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nearly every major app geared towards content creators has seen significant percentage increases in downloads this year, according to data from Apptopia.

The state of play: Cameo expects to make $100 million from video transactions this year, a spokesperson tells Axios. Over 1 million Cameo videos have been sold-to-date, Tens of thousands of talent now use the app to sell videos.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

National Economic Council director Brian Deese speaks during a White House news briefing. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.