Wonder Woman Will Hit Theaters and HBO Max on the Same Day
- “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)
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.”