EXCLUSIVE: Endeavor Executive Chairman Patrick Whitesell today updated the agents at WME on how egregious he felt last week’s blindside by WarnerMedia was, when the studio announced that Warner Bros’ entire 2021 slate would play HBO Max as the films open in theaters. Here is the note Whitesell sent to staff. The agency is heavily invested in the 2021 WB slate. Aside from repping Tenet’s Christopher Nolan, WME reps Gal Gadot on Wonder Woman 1984, The Little Things‘ stars Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto, Reminiscence‘s Hugh Jackman and Lisa Joy, as well as Millie Bobby Brown in Godzilla Vs Kong, and Lin-Manuel Miranda on In The Heights, among others. This adds to the chorus of ire between talent advocates and the studio/streamer.
From: Patrick Whitesell
Date: Friday, December 11, 2020 at 12:56 PM
To: WME Agents
Subject: Important Update Regarding Warner Bros./HBO Max Negotiations
I’m writing to everyone today to provide an update on where we are with our negotiations with Warner Bros. As I made clear to the Motion Picture group last week and will reiterate now: WME rejects their unilateral decision out of hand.
When Warner Bros. called us to inform us that they were going to announce their decision to simultaneously release movies in theaters and on HBO Max last Thursday, we immediately told them that we are disappointed with this decision, and quickly gathered the Motion Picture group for a call. Since then, we have engaged in follow up discussions with the highest levels at Warner Bros. and we are setting up a meeting today to work toward reaching a solution that protects the creative and economic interests of our clients.
We have already been at work on the movie “The Little Things” – the first film on Warner Bros. release schedule and one that includes multiple WME clients. We have the most business with Warner Bros. out of any of the agencies and we are aggressively working to ensure that our clients are protected.
As I stated last week and will reiterate here:
Again, these are all the points that we made last week and have been reinforcing since then. Going forward, we will engage with Warner Bros. on a movie by movie basis, and we will not stop until our clients’ creative and financial needs are satisfied.
Obviously, there is a lot of press attention around this—especially with public statements from other agencies and prominent artists—but we have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients to do our negotiating work in the confidential manner we always do to protect our clients’ privacy and interests.
We will continue to keep you informed as our negotiations progress. Please feel free to share this letter or use the content as talking points with your clients.
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