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Legendary Pictures is considering legal action over the HBO Max roll-out of Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune

Following last week’s shock announcement from Warner Bros. regarding the release of their entire scheduled movies for 2021 including ‘Godzilla Vs Kong‘ and ‘Dune‘ and their plans to release the films simultaneously at the movie theatres as well as the HBO MAX streaming service, the backlash has been swift. Other studios have complained that they were only informed of Warner Bros’ decision around an hour before the announcement was made.

Warner Bros Pictures

Theatre owners both domestically and foreign complained that the plan would be robbing them of much-needed revenue and would be shortchanging their valued customers who decide to see their movies on the silver screen. Warners must have been hoping to ride the storm out. Well, things appear to have just got interesting for everyone else but have gotten worse for Warner Bros. themselves.

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Legendary Entertainment, who are behind the productions of ‘Godzilla Vs Kong‘ and ‘Dune‘ for Warner Bros. has expressed their anger at the companies plans for the movies and in particular, the HBO MAX streaming plan. It is being reported by Deadline that Legendary is so outraged by the choice Warner Bros. has made that they are proceeding with legal action against the studio. It is being said that Legendary:

‘Either have or will send legal letters to Warner Bros. as soon as today, challenging the decision to put the Denis Villeneuve-directed DUNE into the HBO MAX deal, and maybe GODZILLA VS KONG as well. On the latter, Legendary reportedly had Netflix ready to pull the film from Warner Bros. for around $250million, before WarnerMedia blocked it. Sources said Legendary had no advance notice before last week’s announcement that both DUNE and GODZILLA VS KONG were part of the HBO MAX plan.

Godzilla vs. Kong logo
Godzilla vs. Kong (Image courtesy of Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures)

Legendary certainly seems to have the right to challenge WarnerMedia on its decision: Legendary and its partners provided 75% of the $165million or so net budget of DUNE, the adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel that was envisioned to be the first of multiple films exploiting the six-novel series. It put up a similar amount of the funding on the GODZILLA VS KONG film. Will the long-term viability of the franchises be tarnished by starting as an HBO MAX offering? It’s the same question the industry is asking about WONDER WOMAN. Legendary wouldn’t comment’

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Wonder Woman 1984 (Image courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Warner Bros. is caught in a serious situation here. By holding onto the movies they have, they are required to pay interest costs, no matter how low they appear to be at the moment, on the material they have sitting on the shelves, thus pushing the company to get the movies into screens worldwide by any means necessary. That isn’t easy as California has just gone back into lockdown again after a huge spike in Covid cases and the U.K cinema giant, Cineworld has no plans to reopen their screens until the first quarter of 2021 and as such, no movies will be screened by ANYONE  on their screens until the start of January at the earliest but the smart money is on no earlier than March when some of the big releases start to re-emerge onto the release schedules. Adding to the problem is HBO MAX is only available in the United States and so Warner Bros. CANNOT release their films overseas on a streaming service as yet.

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Even if they decide to continue with their plans, they now face legal problems from Legendary Entertainment at least and maybe from other quarters in the industry that are not happy with how they plan to continue next year. Universal already felt the backlash from certain theatres who refused to screen their movies after the 17-day release window debacle. That was resolved eventually but what Warners is proposing goes even further and has enraged most of the industry. It is also now being reported that Denis Villeneuve, the director of ‘Dune‘ himself is angered and disappointed with the decision to send the film to HBO MAX on the same day as it opens theatrically.

Dune (Image courtesy of Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures)

We will have to watch and wait as to what happens next but it wouldn’t surprise me if Warner Bros. backtracks on their decision and goes back to a theatrical release window first and foremost before allowing the films to hit HBO MAX after the release window has closed. Any further developments we learn of regarding this story,  we will report as soon as they break.


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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!


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Source: Deadline


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