The move, which is thought to be US only, was made last week in response to the coronavirus pandemic’s severe impact on the stability of the traditional theatre-first release model.
In a new interview with ET, the Tenet writer and director called the move “very, very, very, very messy”, aiming his criticism at the apparent suddenness of the announcement.
“There’s such controversy around it because they didn’t tell anyone,” he said. “In 2021, they’ve got some of the top filmmakers in the world, they’ve got some of the biggest stars in the world who worked for years in some cases on these projects very close to their hearts that are meant to be big-screen experiences.”
Nolan added: “They’re meant to be out there for the widest possible audiences… And now they’re being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service – for the fledgeling streaming service – without any consultation. So, there’s a lot of controversy. It’s very, very, very, very messy. A real bait and switch.”
A separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter saw Nolan going even further with his criticism – calling HBO Max the “worst streaming service”.
“Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service,” said Nolan.
He added: “Warner Bros had an incredible machine for getting a filmmaker’s work out everywhere, both in theatres and in the home, and they are dismantling it as we speak. 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.”
Nolan’s Tenet was one of the only films to be released in theatres this summer, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The movies Warner Bros. is planning to release in 2021 include: Dune, The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, The Little Things, Judas And The Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla Vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints Of Newark, King Richard, and Cry Macho.