HBO Max extends financial olive branch to Warner Bros. filmmakers

HBO Max Comcast
HBO Max last year filled in some important distribution holes by reaching a deal with Roku and Amazon, and launching an app on Comcast's X1 and Flex platforms. (WarnerMedia)

AT&T is reportedly changing up financial agreements with filmmakers after last year's move to release all 2021 Warner Bros. films on HBO Max.

According to Bloomberg, the company is close to resolving disputes over the release plan, which will see films simultaneously released in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max, where they’ll be available to stream for 31 days. The publication said that AT&T is now guaranteeing payment regardless of box office performance and increasing the odds of performance-based bonuses. Warner Bros. will also pay film crews using HBO Max revenue.

Warner Bros. this year is releasing 17 movies including “Dune,” “The Matrix 4,” “The Suicide Squad” and “In The Heights.” According to the report, bonuses will be paid out at box-office performance thresholds that will be half as high as normal.

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AT&T announced the surprising HBO Max release plan in December and was quickly met with criticism from some fillmmakers.

“After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months,” said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar in a statement. “More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”

The plan is an extension of Warner Bros.’ Christmas Day release of “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max. The company said that nearly half of HBO Max’s retail subscribers viewed the film on the day of its arrival, along with millions of wholesale subscribers who have access to HBO Max via a cable, wireless or other partner services. HBO Max said its total viewing hours on Christmas Day were more than triple in comparison to a typical day in the previous month.