Media merry-go-round continues with AT&T-Discovery deal

One of the brands affected by Discovery’s deal with AT&T

The media business was shaken up, yet again, when AT&T announced today it’s opting to exit the media business and combining those assets with Discovery Inc.

Not that long ago, AT&T couldn’t wait to get into media as a way of combining “content” (Warner Bros., HBO, TBS, TCM, etc.) with wireless.

It was AT&T management that had Warner Bros. debut its 2021 film slate simultaneously in theaters (those that are open) and on the new HBO Max streaming service.

Never mind. AT&T’s media entities will be combined with Discovery’s, which include the likes of HGTV and The Food Network.

Why you should care: The deal announced today is a reminder that media (including, but not limited to, movie studios) remains volatile.

For James Bond fans, their hero is tethered to a media small fry, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. MGM reportedly is for sale. It would be no surprise if MGM gets gobbled up by a bigger media player.

Why you could care Part II: The AT&T-Discovery deal involves a lot of prominent media properties. Warner Bros. already has been affected by being acquired by AT&T. Who knows what happens next?

What happens next: MGM controls some prominent media properties (the Bond franchise among them). The AT&T-Discovery deal that well encourage additional media deals. MGM is owned by hedge funds so now may be the time to cash out.

We’ll see.

About that Christopher Nolan directing a Bond film thing

Christopher Nolan

There are a number of Hollywood types upset with Warner Bros.’s plans to debut its 2021 film slate simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming service as well as theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter. And one of the most prominent is writer-producer-director Christopher Nolan.

Nolan directed a financially successful trio of Batman movies released by Warner Bros. He also shows up as a favorite among some James Bond fans to direct a Bond film at some point.

After all, he’s worked in Bond-inspired bits among his Batman films as well as 2010’s Inception and this year’s Tenet. Meanwhile, Bond films such as Skyfall (2012) and SPECTRE (2015) had Nolan influences. A marriage made in heaven, right?

In a statement to THR, Nolan made clear how unhappy he is about the HBO Max news. The streaming service will show the Warner Bros. movies for 31 days. It’s a way to boost HBO Max.

“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,” Nolan said. “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.”

So here’s the question: Does this mean that Nolan is looking for the exit from his long-standing Warner Bros. relationship?

If so, does this make it more likely he might direct a Bond movie in the future? Or does it show he’s more than willing to bite the hand that feeds him?

Nolan had a pretty good deal at Warners. Nolan’s Syncopy company produced his movies. Nolan’s wife, Emma Thomas, gets a producer credit on his films.

That’s a lot to walk away from. Bond fans who clamor for Nolan to direct Bond say he likes Bond so much he might well turn away such perks. He’d surely be happy to work for Eon Productions, so the thinking goes.

Who knows? It’s still early days of the shakeup that’s going on in the movie business. And when might Bond 26 get off the ground?

Bond 25 questions: The cinema uncertainty edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

So, one major studio, Warner Bros., says it will release its 2021 film slate simultaneously in movie theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service. Also, the costs of No Time to Die, the 25th James bond films continue to balloon.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

What does all this mean for No Time to Die?

It reinforces how No Time to Die was a pre-COVID-19 movie that will debut, one way or another, in a post-COVID-19 world.

What’s different? Really different?

Both Walt Disney Co. (Disney +) and Warner Bros. (HBO Max) are really committed to their corporate streaming services. The Warner Bros. announcement supposedly is temporary for 2021. But few believe this is a short-term step.

To be sure, HBO Max is available mostly in the U.S. But AT&T, the owner of Warner Bros., appears committed to streaming.

Yes, but No Time to Die has no tie to AT&T and Warner Bros., right?

True. The James Bond film franchise is tethered to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the weakest Hollywood studios that doesn’t have a streaming service.

What does that mean?

It remains to be seen how streaming affects the Bond franchise. MGM reportedly reached out to other streaming services to license No Time to Die. Nothing came of it (as far as we know). But MGM is on the hook for a lot of money and loans related to No Time to Die.

How much?

B25 Ltd., a company formed by Eon Productions to make No Time to Die, said in a Dec. 1 U.K. regulatory filing that the film’s costs were approaching $290 million.

The traditional business model called for a wide, worldwide theatrical release, followed by a home video release. But COVID-19 has changed things. Movie theatres have been closed in multiple markets.

And now?

Everything is in flux. Netflix is putting pressure on traditional studios. Disney and Warner Bros. are trying to compete with Netflix with their own streaming services.

MGM, meanwhile, doesn’t have a streaming service. Reportedly, streaming services including Apple + considered a one-year license for No Time to Die but found MGM’s asking price too steep.

For now, No Time to Die is tied to the traditional business model.

Warner Bros. bets big on streaming for 2021

Warner Bros. logo

Warner Bros. plans to make its 2021 film slate available on the HBO Max streaming service the same day the movies are released in theaters, Variety reported.

The movies will be on HBO Max for 31 days. After that time, they will be only available in theaters until the normal home video window opens up, according to the entertainment-news outlet.

The films involved include a new version of Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve (a one-time contender to direct No Time to Die); The Matrix 4; and Suicide Squad.

Warner Bros. is doing something similar with Wonder Woman 1984. That film opens in international theaters in mid-month but will be on HBO Max and theaters in the U.S. starting Dec. 25.

AT&T owns Warner Bros., HBO and HBO Max, the latter intended as a streaming competitor to Netflix.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the home studio of the James Bond films, reportedly had shopped No Time to Die to streaming outlets. No leasing deal took place. The 25th James Bond film currently has an April 2021 release date in theaters.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has played havoc with movie release plans, with many films being delayed multiple times.

WW 1984 becomes 1st ‘tentpole’ to debut via streaming

Wonder Woman 1984 publicity still

Warner Bros. blinked, becoming the first studio to debut a big-budget “tentpole” film, Wonder Woman 1984, via streaming in the United Sstates.

The studio will release the sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman on Dec. 25, both in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service, Variety said. The movie will be shown in theaters internationally ” wherever theaters are open on Dec. 16,” Deadline: Hollywood said.

During this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, studios have played a game of chicken, with nobody wanting to debut their biggest movies while the coronavirus rages. COVID-19 has intensified this fall in the U.S., a major movie market.

As a result, the studios have delayed their big films repeatedly, including No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film. The Bond adventure was pushed back from April 2020 to November 2020 and again to April 2021.

The conventional wisdom is the big budget movies need a theatrical release and can’t debut on streaming services.

But, as the pandemic has dragged on, inhibiting theater attendance, there has been more financial pressure on studios. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, reportedly explored leasing No Time to Die to streaming services. For now, there’s no sign that will happen.

There are promising COVID-19 vaccines being developed but there are questions how quickly they can be deployed.

HBO Max is the streaming service being marketed by AT&T, parent company of Warner Bros. and HBO. AT&T is looking to HBO Max to compete with Netflix.

Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League coming to HBO Max

Justice League movie logo

Waste not, want not.

Zack Snyder, the original director of 2017’s Justice League, will see the light of day on HBO Max in 2021, the new stream service announced on Twitter.

The exact format may be not be decided. The Hollywood Reporter said “the Snyder cut” may be in a four-hour single edition or six “chapters.”

The entertainment news outlet said that Warner Bros. may spend an additional $20 million on the project.

Justice League was intended to be Warners’ answer to The Avengers films from Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel Studios.

Justice League’s worldwide box office was almost $658 million, according to Box Office Mojo. While hardly a flop, it was far less than the four Avengers films released between 2012 and 2019.

What’s more, vast portions of Justice League were refilmed with director Josh Whedon, who helmed the first two Avengers films. It’s generally thought that Whedon lightened the proceedings from a darker Snyder version.

Since Justice League’s original run, things haven’t been quite the same for Warner Bros.’s cinema universe of DC Comics characters. Ben Affleck’s Batman has been replaced. The future of Henry Cavill’s Superman is unsettled. Warner Bros. has been deemphasizing the idea of a big cinematic universe.

HBO Max is AT&T’s entry in the streaming competition involving the likes of Netflix, Disney + and others. AT&T is the parent company of Warner Bros. and HBO.