Godzilla vs. Kong or Legendary vs. Warner Bros. — which one has the potential to be the biggest stand-off of 2021? Either way, Legendary Entertainment will be involve in some legal capacity. The production company behind upcoming tentpoles Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune was notably blindsided by Warner Bros.’ decision to give a day-and-date debut to its entire 2021 theatrical slate on HBO Max. Legendary was unhappy with the decision. Especially since they were reportedly only notified of the choice on the day of Warner Bros.’ game-changing announcement.
They may even take legal action against the company to prevent the HBO Max releases of Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune, according to a new report.
Deadline reports that Legendary Entertainment, which co-produced and co-financed both Dune and Godzilla vs. Kong. May take legal action against WarnerMedia over the day-and-date release of its films on HBO Max. Legendary will reportedly “send legal letters” to Warner Bros. to challenge the day-and-date release of its two films. On which Legendary wasn’t consulted before the unprecedented streaming release plan was announced.
Legendary certainly has every right to do this: the company provided 75% of the roughly $165 million net budget of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune. And put up a similar amount of the funding on Godzilla vs. Kong. Warner Bros. made its decision without consulting Legendary and without providing the option of going to third-party alternatives like Netflix. Which was apparently willing to fork over $250 million for Godzilla vs. Kong before WarnerMedia blocked the deal.
Instead, Legendary said that WarnerMedia decided to go forward with its 2021 day-and-date release plan, without consulting any other studio. Deadline also notes that at least three other films that were majority financed by other studios could see their initial theatrical deals undone by the HBO Max option.
WarnerMedia is bound to see even more blowback from its HBO Max release plan: the films are guaranteed to lose money by debuting day-and-date in theaters and on the streaming service. Putting producers like Legendary in a sticky situation. The HBO Max plan also brings up issues with “backend” deals with filmmakers and cast members who typically earn bonuses based on box office performance. With Wonder Woman 1984, WarnerMedia is reportedly paying out bonuses based on the projection that the film would have earned $1 billion at the box office, per The Playlist. With films like Godzilla vs. Kong and Dune, where the potential box office is unknown, it’s unclear what Warner Bros. will do.