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How will the leak about 'Godzilla vs. Kong' affect the movie industry? Peek inside the tense negotiations between studio execs and filmmakers.

Is ‘Godzilla vs Kong’ going to Netflix? What the new leak implies

Last month, Warner Bros. leaked the news to the public that it would release all of its 2021 films on HBO Max the same day they come out in theaters. The company said the decision was based on the pandemic’s effect on movie theaters. But while film fans were excited to find out the news that they’d get to stream new movies from home, the announcement got Warner Bros. into some trouble.

The studio nearly went into a legal battle with Legendary Entertainment over the Adam Wingard-directed film Godzilla vs. Kong, which is scheduled for a May 21st release date. The film also stars some notable actors, including Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, and Kyle Chandler. As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, sources said Warner Bros. is now reaching a deal with Legendary.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. blocked a deal for Legendary to sell the film to Netflix for $225 million. But although the Godzilla vs. Kong likely won’t get a Netflix leak, there is still ongoing drama.

Beginning of the drama: fears of a news leak

Ann Sarnoff, WarnerMedia chair & CEO, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter last month about why the company chose to announce the HBO Max and theatrical hybrid release strategy. She said she was worried the news would leak before the company got a chance to announce it. However, WarnerMedia didn’t talk to filmmakers & producers first.

“I wish we could have had more time to speak to our partners and talent,” said Sarnoff. “We are very conscious of paying a fair price for the HBO Max thirty-one day distribution of the movie, and we think they’ll be happy to see how much effort we will put behind successfully launching these movies.”

Some people who worked on the films expressed concern about an HBO Max release. Christopher Nolan, who has directed many Warner Bros. movies, was one of them. “They did not speak to those filmmakers. They did not consult them about what their plans were for their work. And I felt that somebody needed to point out that that wasn’t the right way to treat those filmmakers,” Nolan said.

Dune & Godzilla vs. Kong

Now that Legendary & Warner Bros. are coming to an agreement over Godzilla vs. Kong, there might not be a legal confrontation between the two companies. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is negotiating with various filmmakers looking for compensation for the potential loss of profit from the hybrid release.

But a second film with an October 1st release date, Dune, has also sparked controversy with Warner Bros. and Legendary. The Hollywood Reporter said the two companies are coming close to a deal with that film, too. A source told The Hollywood Reporter that there’s an ongoing settlement over whether Dune will get a theatrical release.

A theatrical release for Dune

Denis Villeneuve, the director of Dune, wrote a piece for Variety to express his dissatisfaction with the decision of Warner Bros. to plan to release it on HBO Max.

“Filmmaking is a collaboration, reliant on the mutual trust of teamwork and Warner Bros. has declared they are no longer on the same team,” said Villeneuve. “I strongly believe the future of cinema will be on the big screen, no matter what any Wall Street dilettante says. Since the dawn of time, humans have deeply needed communal storytelling experiences.”

In addition to the controversy surrounding a theatrical release, a source also told The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. may have been using images from Dune without getting approval. The company has allegedly been promoting HBO Max through Dune. Right now, it isn’t clear whether or not WarnerMedia will end up releasing its films on HBO Max and in theaters as it planned. Negotiations are still ongoing.

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