- “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)
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.