- 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)
Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.
Pressure on Beckham
Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup.
Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death.
Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine.
In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.
“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.”
“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.”
Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”
Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.
“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.
Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit.
Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event.
Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)
Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider
The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.”
A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships.
The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.
Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article.
Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”
“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued.
Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends.
While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.
“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note.
Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”
An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”
“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news.
For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.”
“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”
Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.”
He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.”
“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.”
He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post)
Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and More Sign Letter in Support of Restricting Rap Lyrics as Evidence
The letter claims the use of this evidence is a “racially targeted practice” that “punishes already marginalized communities and their stories.”
“Protect Black Art”
Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and a slew of other major artists signed an open letter on Tuesday calling for politicians to restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court.
The letter, titled “Art on Trial: Protect Black Art,” argues that “more than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalize Black creativity and artistry.”
It follows statements from other advocates who claim that police and prosecutors are eager to interpret rap literally instead of treating it as a creative form of expression. By doing so, critics say they ignore the storytelling techniques, figurative language, and hyperbole that are often used in the genre, and weaponize those lyrics against their creators.
Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that aims to limit the use of rap lyrics in court by requiring prosecutors to prove lyrics meet certain criteria and do not display a racial bias before submitting them. State legislators in New York are also weighing a bill with similar goals, and on the federal level, a bill titled the “RAP Act” was introduced in Congress over the summer.
Tuesday’s letter urged state and federal politicians to pass these bills and others like it. It also encouraged prosecutors to drop the practice voluntarily.
Jack Harlow, Future, DJ Khaled, Camilla Cabello, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Normani, Travis Scott, and Christina Aguilera were among the slew of other stars who signed the letter. Record labels like Warner, Universal, and Def Jam joined the list, as did platforms like Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, and YouTube Music.
Rap in Court
According to Warner Music Group, experts have found over 500 cases where rap was used as evidence, and that is likely an undercount as several kinds of cases and proceedings were excluded from that figure. On the other hand, those experts found only four instances since the 1950s where non-rap lyrics were used as evidence, and three of those cases were tossed while the other was overturned after conviction.
The letter used Young Thug and members of the Young Stoner Life label, who are currently facing dozens of charges, including ones that accuse the label of being a criminal gang, as an example of this issue.
“The allegations rely heavily on the artists’ lyrics, which prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy,’” the letter said. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘I get all type of cash, I’m a general,’ are a confession of criminal intent.”
The letter claims that using an artist’s words against them in this manner is “un-American” and “simply wrong.”
“Beyond the obvious disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph,” it continues.
Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Music Group, released a statement arguing that the freedom for musicians to form characters and narratives is “essential to the creative process and the role of art in society.”
“The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecution,” Greenwald added.