- “Wonder Woman 1984″ will hit theaters as planned on Christmas Day, but it will also be released on HBO Max at the same time.
- Director Patty Jenkins is a huge proponent of theater releases, but said that the time for her film is now. “At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” she wrote.
- WarnerMedia hopes that in addition to giving content to theaters, this strategy will also boost subscriptions to its new streaming service. Experts agree that this could be great for HBO Max, as “Wonder Woman” is a strong franchise and many will bend over backwards to see it.
- Other critics think that for a movie with the potential to gross $1 billion, it might be better to hold for theaters. Others also think that a singular movie is not enough for a new streaming service to retain the subscribers it is seeking.
Wonder Woman Dual Release
“Wonder Woman 1984” will hit HBO Max on Christmas Day, the same day it will go to theaters in the U.S.
Warner Bros. announced the strategic move on Wednesday, following months of speculation about what the studio’s plans for the massive blockbuster might be. “Wonder Woman 1984” was supposed to be a summer tentpole but its release was delayed several times due to the pandemic. Many thought Warner Bros. would opt to push it again to summer 2021 when more theaters will be open, full, and more money would be made. Others thought the film would cave into pressure and land on streaming.
The choice to release the film to both simultaneously gives fresh content to struggling movie theaters and also gives a boost to WarnerMedia’s new streaming platform, which falls behind its competitors in terms of subscriptions. Still, it is seen as a big financial risk. Under normal circumstances, “Wonder Woman 1984” was expected to make $1 billion. This weekend at the box office, the highest grossing film was “Freaky” with a gross of $3.7 million. For comparison, the first “Wonder Woman” brought in $100 million during its opening weekend in 2017.
But the pandemic has changed the box office game, and studios just don’t know when they will be able to make that much money again, which is why 2020 has put an emphasis on streaming.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for all of you to see this movie. It wasn’t an easy decision and we never thought we’d have to hold onto the release for such a long time but Covid rocked all of our worlds,” said lead actress Gal Gadot. “We feel the movie has never been so relevant and we hope it’ll bring you some joy, hope and love to your hearts.”
The film’s director, Patty Jenkins, has been a strong advocate for putting movies in theaters to save and preserve the moviegoing experience, but she said that “the time has come” for audiences to finally see the long awaited sequel.
“At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” Jenkins wrote.
On Twitter, Jenkins said that she plans to hold the movie in theaters for “quite a long time.” She hopes it will still be there by the time theaters open their doors globally. However, it could be a very long time before that happens, as coronavirus cases are on a steep rise in many parts of the world. In fact, in the U.S., it is far more likely that more theaters will be forced to shut down before the Christmas Day release, than that more will open up in the near future.
Jenkins said they are working on a plan for fans to be able to rent out a theater so they can watch the film just with their family or pod as opposed to a room of strangers. Major theater chains like AMC are already offering a program like this in some capacity, and it appears that Warner Bros. might be teaming with theaters to make one of their own.
AMC Supports the Decision
AMC’s CEO and President, Adam Aron, released a statement supporting Warner Bros.’ decision.
“For many months, AMC has been in active and deep dialogue with Warner Brothers to figure out how best this cinematic blockbuster could be seen at AMC Theatres in these unprecedented times,” Aron said. “Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theatres, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers’ announcement today.”
The circumstances of the pandemic have forced AMC to make a swift 180 from its original feelings on dual theatrical and digital releases at the start of the pandemic. When Universal promised in April to start putting their films on video on demand the same day they hit theaters, AMC initially shot back and said they would not play the studio’s movies. The two eventually patched things up by forging an agreement allowing for digital release.
Many believe that this release method will be a strong subscriber boost for HBO Max. The six-month-old service currently boasts 8.6 million subscribers, or 57 million when combined with HBO subscriptions worldwide. This is nothing on Netflix’s 195 million or even Disney+’s 73 million. Because “Wonder Woman” is a big enough franchise to make people go to large lengths to see it, many believe it will drive their numbers up. Some also think it could be on track to be the most streamed movie of the year.
Emphasis on Choice
Especially with the lackluster performance of “Tenet,” which was Warner Bros.’ big theater gamble, moving to streaming seems like the best way to actually get a movie in front of audiences. While fans have the option to do either, it seems far more likely that a family might choose to splurge on a subscription service and watch a movie at home for the holidays than venture out to a theater, which might feel less safe.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar thinks the best part of this release strategy is the choice it gives to fans.
“We believe this decision will bring several benefits,” he wrote in a blog post. “The first and most important benefit is to the fans in the form of unprecedented choice from day one. The second benefit is to the exhibitors, providing an eagerly anticipated movie at a much-needed time while they take precautions in their operations.”
Kilar hopes that superfans will see the movie both in theaters and via streaming. He is thrilled by the opportunity to measure the performance of a major movie in a new way.
“A little over four million fans in the U.S. enjoyed the first Wonder Woman movie on its opening day in 2017,” he wrote. “Is it possible for that to happen again this Christmas with Wonder Woman 1984 between theaters and HBO Max? We are so excited to find out, doing everything in our power to provide the power of choice to fans.”
What’s at Stake for HBO Max
Still, some think that WarnerMedia may not reap the rewards this model claims to offer, arguing that one big blockbuster is not what builds a subscription service. While it could be a huge draw, it does not guarantee retention the way television does.
“Movies don’t make streaming services if you haven’t noticed,” wrote Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro. “It’s binge-able series like House of Cards, The Queen’s Gambit, Stranger Things, Mandalorian and Tiger King that keep people addicted to Netflix, Disney+, etc. Didn’t anyone over at HBO Max ever think about launching the service with a Harry Potter TV series?”
HBO Max does have its “Perry Mason” reboot, which was received well by critics but did not generate the same online buzz that a Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ series might. Starring Tatiana Maslany, John Lithgow and Matthew Rhys as the titular detective, it has decent star power behind it, but did not seem to break through the cracks either because it was underpromoted or because the service just did not have enough subscribers to generate a talkative audience.
“Wonder Woman 1984” could give the platform the attention that it needs to generate buzz for the service’s catalogue of content. Or, it could result in people paying for the service for a month or so then canceling because exclusive binge-able content is not in abundance on HBO Max.
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Variety) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.
Actress Pushed at Protest
After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights.
Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”
Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.
Sweetin Addresses Incident
Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over.
“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”
Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.
According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter.
“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.
Theater Named Announced
Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title.
The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”
Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”
Chappelle Defends Controversial Special
According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.
Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda.
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said.
“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special.
According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Variety) (The Atlantic)
Chris Evans Says People Upset With Same-Gender “Lightyear” Kiss Are “Idiots”
The kiss was previously removed from the film until a surge of backlash from Pixar employees prompted Disney to reinstate it.
Chris Evans Supports “Lightyear” Scene
“Lightyear” star Chris Evans is standing against people who have criticized the same-gender kiss scene in the upcoming Pixar film.
“The real truth is those people are idiots,” the actor told Reuters this week when discussing negative reactions to the scene’s inclusion.
“The American story, the human story is one of constant social awakening and growth and that’s what makes us good,” he continued.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and more have banned the release of “Lightyear” over the kiss, which is between two women. Right-wing pundits in the U.S. have also slammed it, and user reviews for the picture on websites like IMDB have claimed that movie-going has “become an avenue for political propaganda.”
Evans argued those opinions are outdated.
“There’s always going to be people who are afraid and unaware and trying to hold on to what was before. But those people die off like dinosaurs,” he said. “I think the goal is to pay them no mind, march forward and embrace the growth that makes us human.”
“Lightyear” hits theaters on Friday starring Evans as the titular Buzz Lightyear. Evans, however, is not playing the action figure made famous in the “Toy Story” movies and is instead playing an animated human astronaut who inspired the toy.
Kiss Scene Almost Never Made it to Big Screen
According to outlets that have reviewed the film, the same-gender kiss is between Alisha Hawthorne, a character voiced by Uzo Aduba, and her wife.
Multiple reports have stated that Disney was always supportive of depicting a gay couple in the picture, but was more hesitant about showing an on-screen kiss between the two. The studio previously had the scene removed from the film until a swell of backlash prompted it to reinstate the kiss.
The decision came in March amid criticisms over Disney’s slow response to Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill. At the time, a group of Pixar employees wrote an open letter claiming that they have pushed for more inclusion in their films, but “nearly every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest.”
Now that the scene made the final cut of “Lightyear,” it has been a large topic of conversation leading up to the film’s release. On Monday, Evans told Variety that the inclusion of the scene makes him “happy,” but he hopes one day, scenes like this will be considered standard.
“It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion,” he said. “That it is this kind of ‘news.’ The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is.”