- “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)
Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan Over Stock It Allegedly Owes Her
The social media star says she was promised stock in FaZe Clan as part of a previous settlement but has yet to receive her shares.
Alissa Violet Sues FaZe Clan
Social media influencer Alissa Marie Violet Butler, known online as Alissa Violet, is suing digital entertainment and esports collective FaZe Clan over stock she is allegedly owed.
According to a Monday report from The Washington Post, Butler’s case stems from a previous lawsuit that involved both her and FaZe Clan. The report says that in 2018, Butler transferred her shares in a media company she co-founded called Clout Gang to a different company called Hubrick Limited as part of an agreement with FaZe Clan. At the time, Hubrick and FaZe Clan were partnering to develop both businesses.
Per The Post, several other FaZe Clan members were part of a similar exchange where they transferred their FaZe Clan shares for Hubrick shares as well. The partnership between the two companies crumbled, however, leading to a legal frenzy. Butler, FaZe Clan, Clout Gang, and more ended up accusing Hubrick of fraud in a lawsuit. Hubrick tossed the allegation right back at them in a countersuit.
To resolve the matters, The Post says Butler and FaZe Clan “entered into an oral agreement to settle the lawsuits with Hubrick,” which involved Butler giving up her Hubrick stock and dropping her claims against the company. In return, she would then receive FaZe Clan common stock.
Butler says that despite holding up her end of the bargain, she has still not received stock in FaZe Clan.
Responses to Lawsuit
Butler has over 10 million followers on Instagram and another 3.7 million subscribers on YouTube. She has had a career in modeling and picked up a handful of acting credits in television shows and music videos. She previously dated the co-owner of FaZe Clan, FaZe Banks.
According to The Post, FaZe Clan is valued at around $300 million.
“If Faze Clan simply abided by its promise to compensate her, Alissa would not have had to sue Faze Clan,” Butler’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, said to The Post.
FaZe Clan defended itself in a statement to the outlet, saying it “denies generally and specifically each and every allegation contained in the Complaint.”
FaZe Clan CEO Lee Trink also sent an email to The Post claiming that the matter will likely be resolved.
“Stories get created out of any disagreement or dispute, big or small,” he wrote. “On this particular matter we’re in close communication and confident it’ll be resolved amicably.”
It is unclear how much Butler is seeking in her suit.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post )(Dexerto) (Esports.com)
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Says “The Activist” Reality Series “Got It Wrong”
The controversial series is now being reworked into a documentary, which Chopra Jonas hopes will better “highlight the actions and impact” of global activists.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas Apologizes For “The Activist”
Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas responded to controversies surrounding “The Activist,” a CBS reality competition series she was slated to co-host that is now being reworked following widespread backlash.
“The Activist” was going to show real activists competing against one another in various challenges in an effort to promote their philanthropic causes. After many expressed disgust at the premise, CBS said it would scrap the footage already shot and turn the idea into a one-time documentary special highlighting the work and impacts of different activists.
“The show got it wrong, and I’m sorry that my participation in it disappointed many of you,” Chopra Jonas wrote on Instagram. “The intention was always to bring attention to the people behind the ideas and highlight the actions and impact of the causes they support tirelessly. I’m happy that in this new format, their stories will be the highlight.”
“I’m proud to collaborate with partners who have their ear to the ground and know when it’s time to hit pause and re-evaluate,” she added.
Chopra Jonas closed her post by thanking the “global community of activists” for their hard work, which often goes unacknowledged.
Controversies Surrounding “The Activist”
Musician Usher and dancer Julianne Hough were cast to host alongside Chopra Jonas. After a release announcing the show and their casting went out last week, it was slammed online by activists and journalists alike.
Actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote that the network would have been better off donating the presumably large production costs to charity instead of “turning activism into a game.”
Women’s activist Gina Martin thought turning charity into a competition was counterintuitive, arguing “the whole *essense* of activism is solidarity and community.”
Writers from The Verge, The Washington Post, Essence, and countless other outlets likewise published pieces slamming the program. The Post’s Michele L. Norris accused CBS of “trying to capitalize on the current avalanche of doom in the daily news cycle.”
Norris added that the show’s “prize,” which was to attend the G20 summit in Italy, boiled down to activists fighting “merely for the right to crash an international conference and try to shake down world leaders for cash.”
Responses From Those Involved
Chopra Jonas is not the only host to address the criticism. Before the idea was canned, Hough wrote a lengthy Instagram post saying she was listening to the dialogue regarding the program.
“There is a feeling of insult, dehumanization, insensitivity and hurt that is being rightfully felt,” she wrote.
“I do not claim to be an activist and wholeheartedly agree that the judging aspect of the show missed the mark and furthermore, that I am not qualified to act as a judge,” she added, though she stopped short of actually stepping down from the gig.
CBS ended up releasing a joint statement with Global Citizen and Live Nation acknowledging the failings of the concept.
“It has become apparent the format of the show as announced distracts from the vital work these incredible activists do in their communities every day,” the statement said. “The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.”
The statement said the new documentary will “showcase the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have advocating for causes they deeply believe in” without any competitive element.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (Vanity Fair) (BBC News)
Health Officials in the U.S. and Trinidad Shut Down Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Claims
After the rapper claimed her cousin’s friend had severe side effects from the vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said she should be “thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis.”
Health Officials Condemn Nicki Minaj’s Vaccine Statement
Health officials in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago are refuting claims rapper Nicki Minaj made this week suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines can lead to testicular swelling.
“My cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent,” Minaj tweeted Monday. “His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied.”
The symptoms Minaj described in the tweet about her cousin’s friend fall more in line with those of various sexually transmitted diseases. The CDC has repeatedly noted that there is “currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.”
International health officials doubled down on this after Minaj’s remarks went viral. Dr. Terrence Deyalsingh, the Health Minister for Trinidad and Tobago, said his department takes every claim of this nature seriously and found no proof that Minaj’s anecdote was true after spending hours thoroughly researching it.
“Unfortunately, we wasted so much time yesterday running down this false claim,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“As we stand now, there is absolutely no reported side effect or adverse event of testicular swelling in Trinidad, or, I dare say anywhere else?” he continued. “None that we know of anywhere in the world.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s leading infectious disease expert, likewise debunked Minaj’s story while speaking to CNN.
“She should be thinking twice about propagating information that really has no basis, except a one-off anecdote, and that’s not what science is all about,” Dr. Fauci told Jake Tapper this week.
Nicki Minaj Claims She Received Invite to Discuss Vaccines at the White House
As vaccine misinformation continues to spread and elongate the pandemic, the Biden administration has unveiled several efforts to instill trust in the science behind it. Minaj claimed Wednesday she was invited to the White House to discuss the vaccine and ask questions on behalf of those who need convincing.
A White House official, however, claimed that she was not offered a trip but rather a call with “one of our doctors to answer questions she has about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.” Minaj slammed the White House on Instagram Wednesday night for undercutting her claim.
“Do you think I’d go on the internet and lie about being invited to the fucking White House?” she said in a 14-minute video. “Like, what?!”
“You know what the request was? ‘We’d like to offer Nicki an invitation to come to the White House to speak with two people,” she continued. “With, what is that man’s name? Dr. Fauci? And with the Surgeon General.”
Minaj said that when she expressed concerns about traveling, they offered the chance to also do a live chat on the social media platform of her choice. Throughout the remainder of her video, she repeatedly made startling claims suggesting the media was targeting an attack on her to make her look dumb so people would stop asking questions about the vaccine.
By Thursday, that video had been viewed over 1.6 million times. “I Stand With Nicki” trended on Twitter Thursday as some claimed the media has twisted her words, while others slammed her fanbase for supporting the rapper as she promoted misinformation.