‘Godzilla Vs. Kong’ Bound To Stick With Theatrical & HBO Max Release As Warner Bros & Legendary Near Settlement

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As we first told you last month, Legendary and Warner Bros are poised to settle their fight over Godzilla vs. Kong, the fourth monster movie between the two which the former financed the $200 million-plus production at 75%, with the movie keeping its simultaneous theatrical and HBO Max release date May 21.

Meanwhile, a settlement over whether Denis Villeneuve’s Dune goes theatrical and HBO Max day-and-date is still being hashed out between WarnerMedia and Legendary. That movie currently has a October 1 release date.

Legendary was among several producers who were irate when WarnerMedia made their surprise December 3 announcement to it would put its entire 2021 theatrical release calendar in both theaters and on struggling streaming service HBO Max. WarnerMedia claimed it was all because of the pandemic; still, many scratched their heads as pending vaccines are expected to quell Covid cases, hopefully in time for a summer movie season.

Warners blocked a deal for Legendary to sell the Adam Wingard-directed Godzilla vs. Kong to Netflix for $225M, and sources confirm to Deadline that the production/financing company was set to argue in court that WarnerMedia was self-dealing in putting the movie straight on HBO Max.

In opting to take its theatrical slate day-and-date on HBO Max, WarnerMedia has been in countless talks with agents to compensate respective talent involved with the studio’s movies. The studio made a settlement on the bonuses for Patty Jenkins, Kristen Wiig and Gal Gadot on Wonder Woman 1984 based on what the film would do in a break-even scenario, I’m told, and talent was paid as such. It’s these types of negotiations that are going on with the ensemble cast of Dune, which includes Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin and Oscar Isaac among several others. That said, Villeneuve wants to keep the feature as a theatrical release.

All of this said, it remains unclear whether WarnerMedia stick with this theatrical-HBO Max release strategy for the entire year. Many of those in exhibition, as well as rival distributors, have said it will be hard for the studio to maintain the plan as more wide theatrical product makes its way to the screen and other studios promise a window.

WarnerMedia didn’t report any stats on how WW1984 did on HBO Max (subscriber or viewership-wise), and the sequel, though it posted the best debut for a movie during the pandemic at $16.7M domestic, dropped like a horror film in Weekend 2, off 67%.

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