Warner Bros. Could Release “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max Shortly After Theatrical Release
- 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)
Twitch Tightens Policies on Explicit Deepfakes
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said in a blog post.
New Rules Regarding “Synthetic NCEI”
Twitch is cracking down on explicit deepfake content and will indefinitely suspend users who share or promote it after a first offense.
“The existence of this content, and its presence and distribution on various sites, is personally violating and beyond upsetting. Deepfake porn isn’t a problem on Twitch, but it’s a terrible issue that some streamers (almost exclusively women) may face on the internet at large,” Twitch said in a Tuesday blog post, explaining it wants to “help streamers protect themselves” in any case this issue arises.
Twitch referred to this content as “synthetic non-consensual exploitative images,” or “synthetic NCEI,” but many of the platform’s users have casually referred to it as deepfake porn. Synthetic NCEI involves someone taking the face of another person and editing it into a pornographic video to make it appear as though that person filmed themselves demonstrating those sexual acts. The new rise in access to this technology has concerned many, as it is easy to use it to exploit others.
While synthetic NCEI is already banned on Twitch, the company took a more actionable step against it in its Tuesday post by creating an Adult Sexual Violence and Exploitation policy. The new rule prohibits the intentional sharing, promoting, or creation of synthetic NCEI and those acts can result in an indefinite suspension on the first offense.
Twitch also updated its Adult Nudity policy to include synthetic NCEI. Even if it is only shown briefly, that content will still be taken down and result in an enforcement.
In addition to the policy changes, Twitch made available a list of resources for those who might be impacted by or wish to learn more about synthetic NCEI.
“The creation, promotion, or viewing of this content is not welcome on Twitch,” the company said closing its blog post.
Growing Concerns About Explicit Deepfakes
Twitch’s updates come as synthetic NCEI and deepfakes have become a primary topic of concern for social media platforms. Earlier this year, Twitch was home to a major deepfake controversy after a streamer known as Atrioc was caught with an open tab to a website that hosted these videos. That site specifically hosted deepfakes of female Twitch streamers, some of whom were Atrioc’s colleagues.
Many women featured on the page spoke out against these deepfakes, explaining the trauma they endured knowing their face, image, and likeness were used in a sexual manner without their consent. It’s an issue that extends far past Twitch creators. Some fear they could be used for revenge porn, and there are already several cases where the technology is used to create sexual videos of celebrities.
On Tuesday, NBC News published a report finding that Facebook and Instagram ran suggestive ads featuring deepfakes of actresses like Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson. The ads were for a deepfake app that told users they could “replace face with anyone.”
While the ads did not show explicit pornographic content, one ad featuring Watson was clearly meant to mimic the start of an explicit video, suggesting a sexual act was about to start. The face of the “Harry Potter” actress was seen looking into the camera before bending down.
The report found that 127 ads with Watson deepfakes and 74 with Johansson deepfakes ran across Meta’s platforms on Sunday and Monday, but have since been removed. The app in question was also removed from the Apple app store after NBC News contacted the tech giant for comment.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (Kotaku)
Fans Defend Pedro Pascal After Actor Refused to Read Thirst Tweets: “It’s Sexual Harassment”
Pascal has been dubbed the Internet’s “daddy,” but many think the joke has gone too far.
Pascal’s Heartthrob Status
Fans are defending actor Pedro Pascal after he refused to read thirst tweets on the red carpet, arguing that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to ask him to do so.
Pascal, the star of HBO’s “The Last of Us” and Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” has become a major Hollywood heartthrob. He has even been widely dubbed as the Internet’s “daddy” by those posting about his handsome looks. The running joke grew last year when he did a Vanity Fair lie detector test and said he considered himself a “bigger daddy” than “Star Wars” star Oscar Isaac.
“Daddy is a state of mind, you know what I’m saying? I’m your daddy,” he quipped during the interview.
Since then, TikTokers have started posting thirst trap edits of Pascal, journalists have called him “daddy” on the red carpet, and interviewers have shown him tweets where fans call him a “cool, slutty daddy.”
Pascal has been a good sport about the public displays of lust for him, but many think the joke may have crossed a line. During last week’s red carpet premiere for season three of “The Mandalorian,” an Access Hollywood reporter went viral for asking Pascal to read thirst tweets to the camera. Pascal politely declined.
“No. Dirty! Dirty!” he told the reporter after reading through the tweets.
“For your enjoyment only,” she responded.
“Thank you very much,” Pascal said before exiting the interview.
Fans Condemn Thirst Tweet Interviews
In response, many who watched the clip condemned this treatment of Pascal, arguing it promoted constant objectification.
“I think it’s time for the internet to leave Pedro Pascal alone,” one person wrote. “It’s sexual harassment, but no one seems to care bc he’s a man + is graceful about it. It’s really gross and I would never want to be treated like that.”
“These jokes have gone way too far and he’s visibly uncomfortable,” another fan added.
Some claimed that while the Internet’s love of Pascal “started as harmless fun…the constant public objectification and sexualization must be terrible” and should stop.
“Being attractive, banking on it, selling it, and even at times enjoying some of the attention, doesn’t give everyone wholesale permission to sexualize you,” someone else argued.
See what others are saying: (IndieWire) (The Gamer) (BuzzFeed News)
Conservatives Pledge to #BoycottHershey After International Women’s Day Campaign Featured a Trans Woman
“I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too,” activist Fae Johnstone said in her Hers for She video.
Hershey Highlights Fae Johnstone
Step aside, Green M&M. Conservatives have a new candy that they’re mad at: Hershey bars.
On Wednesday, Hershey Canada unveiled its “Her for She” International Women’s Day initiative, which aims to celebrate “women changing the future.” Conservatives were quickly outraged by the company’s choice to highlight Fae Johnstone, a trans woman and LGBTQ+ rights activist, as part of this effort.
“We can create a world where everyone is able to live in public space as their honest and authentic selves,” Johnstone said in a “Her for She” video.
In addition to Johnstone, the campaign features gender equality activists, a climate tech researcher, and an indigenous rights activist, all of whom have fought for progress in their respective fields. The women will appear on Hershey’s websites, in marketing promotions, and in artistic renderings on Hershey bar wrappers.
Johnstone wrote on Twitter that she hopes Hershey’s campaign will “give more young women and girls role models” who can demonstrate how to “change the world, together.”
“It also means a lot to be included, as a young(ish?) trans woman,” Johnstone continued. “I grew up with few trans role models. Many young trans folks haven’t met a trans adult. I hope this campaign shows trans girls they can dream big and change the world too.”
A Swift Transphobic Backlash
This decision, however, prompted right-wing Twitter users to accuse Hershey of hating “real” women. Many of the posts included blatantly transphobic rhetoric, as well as promises to boycott the company because it went “woke.”
The outrage was so prominent that #BoycottHershey was one of the top Twitter trends on Thursday morning.
This backlash comes just a little over a month after conservative media figures like Tucker Carlson slammed M&M for making the green mascot character, well, less sexy.
In response to Mars changing the green candy’s outfit, Carlson accused the Mars company of making its characters “as unattractive as possible because when you’re intentionally repulsive, it’s clear you’ve got the right politics.”
Not long after the right-wing backlash, M&M opted to replace its “spokescandies” with actress Maya Rudolph.
The conservative outrage targeted at both Hershey and M&M is part of a larger culture war against any company that makes changes to address diversity, climate change, or other social issues. Brands like Xbox, “Sesame Street,” and more have at one point provoked the ire of Fox News hosts and other Republican figures.
In fact, their outrage against these progressive changes has become so common that once #BoycottHershey was trending, some tweeted that they did not even have to click on the hashtag “to know that they must have done something compassionate that the right hates.”