- According to several reports with sources at Warner Bros., the studio is considering putting “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max just one or two weeks after its Christmas Day theatrical release.
- Another option being weighed is to push its release back again, this time to summer 2021.
- While some experts think it’s risky for such a highly anticipated movie to go to streaming so soon after its release, others think this could give HBO Max a big boost in subscribers.
- While HBO Max has exceeded the company’s expectations in growth so far, it still falls behind other new streaming platforms like Peacock and Disney+.
- It has been criticized for not being accessible on Roku or Amazon Fire, though as of Tuesday, it will be available on the latter. Others have also said its name causes confusion, as some do not know the difference between HBO Max, HBO, HBO Go, or HBO Now.
Potential Plans for “Wonder Woman“
With the slated Christmas release for “Wonder Woman 1984” just around the corner and coronavirus cases jolting up, reports suggest that Warner Bros. is considering pushing the movie back to summer 2021 or releasing it on HBO Max just a week or two after it hits theaters.
The stakes are high for Warner Bros., which already took a dive into the theatrical unknown by releasing “Tenet” to limited American audiences after debuting it abroad. While the Christopher Nolan flick brought in some money internationally, its domestic performance was underwhelming. Now, the studio has to decide what path is best for an even bigger blockbuster.
A movie like “Wonder Woman 1984” would still not make nearly as much in theaters as it could under normal circumstances. The highest-grossing movie at the box office this weekend was “Freaky,” which brought in $3.7 million– pennies compared to what the opening weekend for a superhero film should look like. As coronavirus spikes threaten new lockdowns, more theaters might have to close back up, meaning potential revenue could shrink significantly, making the case for delaying the movie to the summer.
However, according to a report from Bloomberg, the option of sending the movie to theaters, and then to Warner Media’s new streaming site just a few weeks later is being weighed as a strong option. First, it’s an option that theaters will likely show interest in because it is better than delaying the movie another six months. This year has already been devastating for them and “Wonder Woman” could help them out a little.
From Warner Bros.’ perspective, it could also give HBO Max a subscriber boost. The streaming service launched six months ago and has 8.6 million users, but combined with the HBO Network has 57 million globally. While this exceeds what was expected for it thus far, it still trails behind its competitors substantially.
Experts Weigh In
But the idea of putting a film as highly anticipated as “Wonder Woman 1984” on streaming so quickly has been met with mixed reactions. Some think it is too big a risk both financially speaking and in terms of the film’s branding.
“Do what’s best for the franchise, not the crazy streaming monster you just built,” Anthony D’Alessandro wrote for Deadline. “Wonder Woman 1984 is not Witches and it’s certainly not Scoob!. This is a movie that has the potential to gross $1 billion worldwide, and the ancillary riches and HBO Max subscribers will come with that down the road.”
Shawn Robbins, Chief Analyst at Box Office Pro had similar reservations when speaking with the Observer.
“I go back to the never-say-never clause because there is no normalcy right now and PVOD isn’t going away, but Wonder Woman isn’t Borat or Bill & Ted,” he said. “It’s high-stakes, and any shortened window or streaming release needs to be perfectly calculated and generally accepted by the entire theatrical ecosystem, or a high price will be paid down the road.”
Still, some thought the idea shows promise and potential.
“This is a big opportunity for WB to solidify their faith in streaming content,” Jeff Bock, Senior Box Office Analyst at Exhibitor Relations told the Observer. “Go big, or go home. Dropping 1984 on HBO Max would be a huge statement for Warner, as they pivot at this critical point, and attempt to compete with Disney+, Amazon and Netflix. They certainly have a long way to go, but Wonder Woman would be a definitive, heavyweight prospect in the streaming fight.”
State of Streaming Wars
HBO has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to compete on the same level as other streaming services. NBC’s Peacock, which came out two months after HBO Max has already brought in 22 million subscribers, though its free tier presumably helps it. After being out for a year, Apple TV+ has 40 million. Disney+, which is also a year old, leads the way for new streamers with 73 million subscribers. Overall, Netflix continues to reign supreme with 195 million subscribers.
While Warner Media is not unhappy with how HBO Max is fairing, generally speaking, critics have said it has had a rocky start. Some are confused by what it is, and how it is different from HBO, HBO Now or HBO Go. It also has not been immediately accessible for many potential subscribers. On Monday, news broke that HBO Max had finally made a deal to be available on Amazon Fire. It is still unavailable on Roku.
If “Wonder Woman 1984” were to go to streaming, it could very well end up being the most watched streaming film since the pandemic began, with the potential to surpass the success Disney+ had with “Hamilton.” Still, it remains unclear if the film would bring in enough subscribers, or if HBO Max’s lower profile compared to other streamers would drag the film, which in normal times could have made $1 billion.
According to Scott Mendelson at Forbes, HBO Max would have to get a lot of new subscribers, or some new loyal subscribers, for it to be worth putting “Wonder Woman 1984” on the platform. His report stated that if this move brought in 5 million new subscribers, it would get $75 million in monthly revenue, which in normal times is what the studio could have easily gotten back from theaters from a $150 million opening weekend.
But say the movie was to earn $750 million worldwide at the box office, which in normal times it probably would at least get that, then the studio would make $350 million back from theaters. In order to get that chunk of change from HBO Max, it would need to bring in either 24 million new subscribers or get and keep 5 million for at least five months without canceling.
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (The Observer) (Forbes)
Netflix Launches “Fast Laughs,” a TikTok-Like Feed of Funny Clips
- Netflix has created a TikTok-style feature it calls “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
- Executives described it as a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
- The clips can be shared on social media, and if users stumble across something they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately.
Netflix Announces “Fast Laughs”
Netflix is now the latest platform to introduce its own TikTok-like feature.
On Thursday, the company announced “Fast Laughs,” which is currently only available on its iOS mobile app in select countries.
It essentially looks like TikTok, but Patrick Flemming, director of product innovation at Netflix, told The Verge it is a “new full-screen feed of funny clips from a wide variety of Netflix titles, ranging from films and series to our deep bench of stand-up specials.”
In its announcement blog post, Netflix said, “You access the feed through your bottom navigation menu by clicking on the Fast Laughs tab. Clips will start playing – when one ends another begins, to keep the laughs coming.“
If a user stumbles across a scene they want to see more of, they can save that title to watch later or play it immediately if they’d like. They can also share the clips individually on Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Could It Really Rival TikTok?
Adding this TikTok-style feature may seem surprising since Netflix is a streaming service rather than a social media platform.
However, Netflix’s last few earnings reports have actually referenced TikTok as a major competitor. It’s not because they make the same style of content but instead because people are spending more time on TikTok – which for some means less time on Netflix.
While “Fast Laughs” might not compete with TikTok the way some other copycats hope to, some believe it’s an interesting way to highlight the huge library of content the site offers.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Tech Crunch) (USA Today)
Court Sides With Sofia Vergara, Says Ex Cannot Use Embryos Without Permission
- A Los Angeles court sided with actress Sofia Vergara on Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance Nick Loeb cannot use their embryos without her consent.
- The court cited a document the former couple had signed agreeing that both parties needed to approve the use of the embryos, arguing that the document could not be void.
- In a response, Loeb appeared to plug his new movie, saying the judge was “clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
- Loeb had been trying to obtain custody of the embryos for many years and even argued in a Louisiana court that they should be treated as humans with rights, though the case was dismissed.
Court Sides With Sofia Vergara
Los Angeles County Superior Court sided with actress Sofia Vergara Tuesday, ruling that her ex-fiance could not use their embryos without her permission.
Vergara has been involved in a court battle with her ex, Nick Loeb, for several years. The two split in 2014 and had reportedly undergone in vitro fertilization within a year before their break up.
Loeb had been fighting to use those embryos on his own via a surrogate. According to TMZ, he at one point tried to take custody of them through a trust and named the embryos in a lawsuit. He also argued in a Louisiana court that the embryos should be recognized as humans with rights. The court dismissed that case in January and said Loeb was “forum shopping” for a court that might agree with his argument. At the time, his team said he would appeal their decision.
People Magazine obtained court documents from the Los Angeles court’s ruling, which granted Vergara’s request for a permanent injunction preventing Loeb from using the embryos “to create a child without the explicit written permission of the other person.”
Loeb Responds to Ruling
The court cited a document the former couple both signed at a fertility clinic, agreeing that both parties had to approve of any use of the embryos. Loeb tried to argue that he signed it under “duress” but the court still said that their agreement was not voidable based on that defense.
Loeb also tried to argue that he and the Modern Family actress had an “oral agreement” that would allow him to use the embryos on his own terms, but court said there was no “material fact” to support this.
According to People, Loeb issued a statement that plugged his new movie after the ruling. He said the judge “was clearly influenced by Hollywood, which is a pattern I expose in my upcoming film Roe v. Wade.”
“It’s sad that Sofia, a devout Catholic, would intentionally create babies just to kill them,” he continued.
Vergara’s team has not yet issued a statement on the case.
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (Entertainment Tonight)
Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography in New Lawsuit
- Comedian Chris D’Elia was sued in California on Tuesday for sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
- The lawsuit alleges that D’Elia “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to get dozens of nude photos from a girl he knew was 17 at the time.
- It also says he invited the minor to his hotel room before one of his shows, where she performed sexual acts at his request.
- D’Elia’s spokesperson denied the accusations, which come just two weeks after D’Elia addressed months-old claims that he had sexually harassed underage women. He claimed sex “controlled” his life and admitted to having “a problem” but maintained all his relationships had been consensual and legal.
Chris D’Elia Accused of Soliciting Child Pornography
A federal lawsuit filed in the Central District of California on Tuesday accuses comedian Chris D’Elia of sexual exploitation and soliciting nude photos from a minor.
The allegations stem from 2014 when Jane Doe, now 24, was just 17-years-old. The lawsuit says D’Elia, who would have been 34 at the time, “constructed a manipulative, controlling, and abusive dynamic” in order to solicit the photos and pressure Doe into sexual encounters.
According to Doe, their interactions began in September of that year when she contacted him on Instagram, thinking he would never reply. D’Elia, however, allegedly responded to her message right away and asked her to come to one of his shows. When she agreed to see him perform at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, she says they exchanged information on Snapchat.
Once the two started communicating on Snapchat, the lawsuit claims that the messages D’Elia sent “became sexual very quickly.” He allegedly started to ask for nude photos of her, and if she did not reply, he would persist. While she tried to avoid sending the photos, the lawsuit claims he was “aggressive.” She eventually sent him 5-10 explicit photos before she met him.
According to the lawsuit, when D’Elia came to perform in Connecticut in November, he invited Doe to his room before the show. Because she was nervous about the situation, Doe brought a friend with her, but D’Elia allegedly demanded that the friend leave or else he would not let Doe inside.
Doe’s friend left and the lawsuit claims that D’Elia then began to request sexual favors from Doe within minutes of her arrival. It alleges that the two had sex while D’Elia knew her age. It even adds that during the acts, he repeatedly asked her to tell him she was 17 and still in high school, with him allegedly saying that this was “hot.”
Doe says that he invited her back to his hotel after the show and they had sex again. After this, she says she left feeling “disgusting and defeated.” The lawsuit says this was her first sexual encounter of any kind and she had not even kissed anyone prior to meeting him, leaving her unsure what to think or do in the situation.
Over the following months, the lawsuit claims that D’Elia would limit his communication with Doe as a tactic to pry more photos out of her. It says he would demand she send explicit photos or he would unfollow her on social media until she compiled. The lawsuit says that over the course of six to seven months, she sent him over 100 explicit photos and videos, roughly half of which were taken while she was a minor.
The lawsuit says Doe “suffered significant emotional, physical, and psychological harm as a direct result of Defendant D’Elia’s predatory conduct.”
D’Elia Says He “Has A Problem”
These allegations come nearly nine months after several women accused him of sexual harassment and predatory behavior. Many said they were underage at the time he harassed them.
After months of silence, D’Elia recently addressed those allegations in a 10-minute video on February 19. He apologized and said he had been seeking help.
“I mean sex, it controlled my life,” he said. “It was the focus, my focus, all the time. And I had a problem. I do have a problem.”
However, he denied ever breaking the law in his sexual encounters.
“I stand by the fact that all my relationships have been consensual and legal,” he said.
A spokesperson for the comedian told the Los Angeles Times that the accusations in the lawsuit are false.
“Chris denies these allegations and will vigorously defend against them in court,” they said.
Jane Doe is seeking unspecified damages.