The Suicide Squad Director James Gunn Reportedly Unhappy Over HBO Max Movie Premieres

The Suicide Squad writer-director James Gunn is "unhappy" his DC film will premiere on the HBO Max streaming service on the same day it releases into theaters, according to a new report. AT&T-owned WarnerMedia last week announced it would send its entire 2021 slate — including Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, and The Matrix 4 — to streaming in an unprecedented move that sent shockwaves through the industry. Along with DC's Wonder Woman 1984, which will become the company's first blockbuster-type movie to do day-and-date when it premieres on HBO Max on Christmas, a total of 18 titles will stream on the platform for 31 days at the same time they open in theaters at no extra cost to subscribers.

The "platform-agnostic" Gunn was "not pleased when the studio followed its shocking announcement by floating a lackluster formula for compensating him and other profit participants" in The Suicide Squad, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. On Twitter, THR's Borys Kit noted Gunn is among the talent "unhappy" over the decision.

In that same report, The Dark Knight and Tenet director Christopher Nolan said the December 3 announcement "makes no economic sense" and called HBO Max "the worst streaming service."

On Thursday, WarnerMedia executives said this "unique one-year plan," a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is a "win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we're extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances."

But many of those partners felt blindsided by the announcement, including Legendary Pictures. The Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong producers are reportedly considering a lawsuit over this "consumer-focused" hybrid exhibition model, and THR notes the move could open up WarnerMedia to other legal troubles.

In a statement Thursday, Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich said the model "enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021."

"We have a fantastic, wide-ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we're excited to be able to get these movies in front of audiences around the world," Emmerich said. "And, as always, we'll support all of our release with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well."

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The move also drew sharp criticism from the exhibition industry, including AMC Theatres boss Adam Aron. In a statement, Aron said the theater chain signed onto an "exception" for Wonder Woman 1984 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, but accused WarnerMedia of intending to "sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up."

The Suicide Squad premieres on HBO Max and in theaters on August 6, 2021.