Warner Sets Dates for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ PVOD, Digital Sellthrough and Disc Release

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will bow Wonder Woman 1984 as a 48-hour premium VOD rental for $19.99 starting Feb. 12, prior to making the superhero sequel available through digital retailers March 16, and on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray March 30.

The film was famously released Christmas Day concurrently in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max, the first in WarnerMedia’s pandemic strategy for its entire theatrical slate through 2021. It earned $40.3 million at the domestic box office while also being available to watch at home by HBO Max subscribers for a month.

For the first time, Warner is creating a PVOD window after the streaming release of a first-run film, perhaps indicating a change in release strategy.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, the follow-up to 2017’s Wonder Woman sees Gal Gadot returning to the title role, updating the setting from World War I Europe to Washington D.C. in the mid 1980s. The latest adventure finds the Amazonian heroine battling a megalomaniacal businessman (Pedro Pascal) who comes into possession of a magical stone that grants wishes. As the world descends into chaos as a result, she must also deal with a co-worker (Kristen Wiig) who becomes the villainous Cheetah, as well as the return of her long-dead boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Blu-ray and 4K combo packs will include the featurettes “The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding the Wonder,” “Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever,” “Small But Mighty,” “Gal & Krissy Having Fun” and “Meet the Amazons,” as well as “Scene Study: The Open Road” and “Scene Study: The Mall.” Other extras include a gag reel, the Black Gold Infomercial seen in the film, and a “Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Wonder Woman 1984 will feature DolbyVision HDR, which dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range, and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame, as well as HDR10+, a new HDR technology that optimizes brightness levels and contrast for each scene, making bright areas brighter and dark areas darker to deliver a lifelike viewing experience. It will also feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

 

Wonder Woman 1984

STREAMING REVIEW:

Warner/HBO Max;
Action;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbued her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

Follow us on Instagram!

The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show.

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise (though it will be interesting to see the character’s expanded role in HBO Max’s upcoming “Snyder Cut” of Justice League).

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of the just-announced third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it will be available exclusively in theaters until its traditional home video run.

Warner Bros. Pictures Fast-Tracks Development on ‘Wonder Woman 3’

On the heels of a pandemic-record weekend box office for Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that it would fast-track development on the third installment of the “Wonder Woman” franchise to be written by Patty Jenkins, who is also attached to direct, and starring Gal Gadot.

Wonder Woman 1984 easily conquered the holiday weekend, exceeding box office projections as the top post-pandemic domestic opening weekend for any feature film this year, with $16.7 million in box office. Wonder Woman 1984 took in an estimated $36.1 million globally from 42 markets in release this weekend (including U.S. and Canada). This takes the international running total to $68.3 million, and the worldwide tally to $85 million.

“As fans around the world continue to embrace [returning to the theater], driving the strong opening weekend performance of Wonder Woman 1984, we are excited to be able continue her story with our real life Wonder Women — Gal and Patty — who will return to conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy,” Toby Emmerich, chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Private watch parties and large-format screens (Imax, Dolby, PLF) drove ticket sales and were the most popular option among consumers. Over the weekend, over 10,000 private rentals were booked, an innovative and popular way for audiences to feel comfortable watching the film in their own social bubbles. In the U.S., only 39% of U.S. cinemas (representing 56% of the box office) are currently open at limited capacity, with closures in top markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia, among others. WW84 is playing in more than 2,100 theaters nationwide with limited capacity. This represents about half of the locations and, in these theaters, half of the available seating compared to a pre-pandemic environment. The first Wonder Woman film was available at 4,165 theaters in 2017 at 100% seating. In Canada, only 5% of theaters (representing 3% of the total Canadian box-office) are open. The Canadian theatrical market was supplemented with a PVOD day and date release which yielded an additional estimated $4 million. 40 markets internationally opened Wonder Woman 1984  in the first two weeks representing 68% of total box office, compared to 2017 with 58 markets representing 77% of total box office for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman 1984 was released via a unique, consumer-focused distribution model in which Warner Bros. exhibited the film theatrically worldwide, while adding an exclusive one-month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent with the film’s domestic release. This hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic, particularly in the U.S. Following the one-month HBO Max access period domestically, Wonder Woman 1984 will leave the platform and continue theatrically in the U.S. and international territories, with all customary distribution windows applying to the title.

The film was released in theaters internationally beginning Dec. 16, and in the U.S. in theaters and on Max on Dec. 25.

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ to Bow on HBO Max Simultaneously With Dec. 25 Theatrical Release

In an unprecedented move for a major tentpole title, Warner Bros.’s highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 will debut in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max on the very same day, Dec. 25.

After a series of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. had finally set Wonder Woman 1984 for a Christmas Day theatrical release. Following tepid box office response to Warner’s Tenet over the summer, and with a surge in coronavirus cases nationwide, industry observers had been speculating whether Warner would again push back the release of the big-budget comic book blockbuster into 2021, as many other studios have done with their tentpole titles.

Instead, Warner on Nov. 18 announced that instead of moving Wonder Woman 1984 off its theatrical date, it would instead release the film on HBO Max as well.

HBO Max subscribers in the United States will be able to access the film for a month with no additional cost to the $14.99 monthly fee (HBO Max offers a seven-day free trial for new members). International markets without HBO Max access, the film will open Dec. 16.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

A sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, which grossed $821.8 million worldwide, the follow-up reunites director Patty Jenkins with star Gal Gadot and moves the setting from World War I to 1980s America, where the DC Comics heroine confronts the challenges of the Cold War. The budget of the sequel is estimated at around $200 million.

Apple TV+ to Bow ‘Hedy Lamarr’ Starring Gal Gadot

“Hedy Lamarr,” an eight-episode limited series starring and executive produced by Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman” franchise), will premiere globally on Apple TV+.

The series is written and executive produced by Golden Globe Award winner Sarah Treem (“The Affair,” “House of Cards,” “In Treatment”).

Hailed as “the most beautiful woman in the world,” Hedy Lamarr was first exalted and iconized, then destroyed and eventually forgotten by American audiences, all the while keeping her brilliant mind active through a series of inventions, one of which became the basis for the spread spectrum technology used today. The series will follow the life story of the Hollywood glamour girl, spanning 30 years from Hedy’s escape from prewar Vienna, to her meteoric rise in the Golden Age of Hollywood, to her fall and eventual disgrace at the dawn of the Cold War.

The notion for the historical drama originated from Gadot and producing partner Jaron Varsano (“My Dearest Fidel”), who then partnered with Emmy and BAFTA Award winner Warren Littlefield (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) and Treem, the latter of whom created the series, according to an Apple release.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

In addition to Gadot and Treem, “Hedy Lamarr” will be executive produced by Littlefield and Katie Robbins (“The Affair”). Gadot and Varsano will produce through their production company, Pilot Wave. Adam Haggiag (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) and Alexandra Dean (Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story) will serve as co-producers, with Hedy Lamarr’s children Anthony Loder and Denise Deluca consulting on the series.

Follow us on Instagram

Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for $4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial. The Apple TV app will be available on Sony and VIZIO smart TVs later this year, according to the release.

Warner Rolls Out New ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Poster

With the planned June 5 theatrical launch of Wonder Woman 1984 delayed to Aug. 14, Warner Bros. has updated the movie poster and also is issuing an animated digital poster.

In a social media post, the movie’s star, Gal Gadot, said she is looking forward to a brighter future for people, society and the power of cinema.

“In these dark and scary times, I am looking forward to a brighter future ahead,” Gadot tweeted. “Where we can share the power of cinema together again. Excited to re-date our WW84 film to August 14, 2020. I hope everyone is safe. Sending my love to you all.”

In a separate tweet, the film’s director, Patty Jenkins, reiterated the studio’s support for a theatrical debut rather than offloading the title to retail channels, including transactional VOD and SVOD.

“Wonder Woman 1984 was made for the big screen and I believe in the power of cinema. In these terrible times, when theater owners are struggling as so many are, we are excited to re-date our film … in a theater near you, and pray for better times for all by then.”

The new Wonder Woman poster (courtesy Warner Bros.)

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Theatrical Release Delayed to August

Warner Bros.’ tentpole title Wonder Woman 1984 has had its theatrical release pushed back from June 5 to Aug. 14, the studio disclosed on March 25.

With theaters shuttered and interest in home entertainment spiking due to quarantine measures taken to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, the sequel to the 2017 box office and home entertainment hit Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, had been speculated as a possible marquee title when WarnerMedia launches the HBO Max streaming service in May.

Follow us on Instagram

But studio executives pushed back on idea considering the film’s reported $200 million production budget and high-profile traction among moviegoers.

“When we greenlit [Wonder Woman 1984] it was with every intention to be viewed on the big screen and are excited to announce that Warner Bros. Pictures will be bringing the film to theaters on Aug. 14th,”  Toby Emmerich,  Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group chairman, said in a statement. “We hope the world will be in a safer and healthier place by then.”

Warner, which has released several theatrical titles early into retail channels, said it was also delaying the theatrical releases of Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights, animated feature Scoob!, and horror movie Malignant from their original box office debuts.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Warner Bros.’ ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Still Going to Theaters, Not Streaming — For Now

Warner Bros. remains on schedule to release summer tentpole title Wonder Woman 1984 in theaters June 4. The sequel to 2017 box office and home entertainment blockbuster Wonder Woman again stars Gal Gadot in the title role, along with co-stars Chris Pine, Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen. Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are newcomers in the sequel.

Follow us on Instagram

With Warner accelerating home entertainment releases for a number of theatrical titles due to coronavirus fears shuttering theaters worldwide, scuttlebutt suggested the studio would deliver Wonder Woman straight to retail channels and/or WarnerMedia Entertainment’s pending SVOD service, HBO Max.

But that scenario, thus far, seems remote, according to media reports citing people familiar with the situation.

Warner confirmed to several media sources the movie remains earmarked for the traditional 90-day theatrical window. The 2017 movie generated more than $820 million at the global box office.

“We’re looking to release the movie theatrically, that’s our plan,” Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution, told The Wrap.

The movie’s producer, Charles Roven, in a separate interview, said it was “ludicrous” to consider shipping Wonder Woman 1984 straight to over-the-top distribution.

“Everybody recognizes that, as interesting as streaming might be, if you want a huge, global worldwide box office, you’ve got to release it in a movie theater,” Roven said.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

With a reported $200 million production budget, taking the movie directly to SVOD would significantly undermine the title’s return-on-investment. Offering the sequel directly to transactional VOD and packaged media would require significant unit sales that did not materialize for Wonder Woman.

Lightshed Partners analyst Richard Greenfield suggests that replacing the gross profit from a $1 billion theatrical release would require upwards of 21 million transactional VOD units sold at $30 each — the price point of the short-lived premium VOD distribution business model.

In addition, bypassing theatrical for a movie like Wonder Woman could permanently undermine the theatrical window — a scenario the National Association of Theatre Owners has no interest exploring.

The trade group said such a move ignores the underlying financial “logic” of studio investment in theatrical titles. To avoid catastrophic losses to the studios, NATO said big-budget titles must have the fullest possible theatrical release around the world.

“While one or two releases may forgo theatrical release, it is our understanding from discussions with distributors that the vast majority of deferred releases will be rescheduled for theatrical release as life returns to normal,” NATO said in a statement.

 

Netflix Gets Universal’s ‘Red Notice,’ Adds Ryan Reynolds to Cast

Netflix has taken over production of action-adventure movie Red Notice, from Universal Pictures.

The film — originally slated for Universal’s 2020 theatrical schedule — stars Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper, Jumanji: The Next Level) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), with Netflix reportedly adding Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) to the cast.

Dwyane Johnson

Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions is co-producer on the globetrotting action-thriller centered on the pursuit of the most-wanted art thief in the world and is set to begin principal photography in various locations in 2020.

The film is written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence).

“With Red Notice, our goal at Seven Bucks Productions was to break down traditional barriers and create a true global event for the audience,” Johnson said in a statement. “Netflix has illustrated that they are the perfect partners to accomplish this goal.”

With Netflix’s business model mandating streaming access with scant simultaneous theatrical distribution, Johnson & Co. are sacrificing back-end compensation — a growing trend among studios — for instantaneous distribution in more than 190 countries.

“[Netflix’s] original content generates critical acclaim and invites full collaboration on every level of production,” Johnson said. “Their unbridled enthusiasm for Red Notice is equally matched by their commitment to entertaining audiences on an international scale. As the landscape of movies, distribution and audience consumption continues to evolve, our Seven Bucks focus is to continue to find the best platform and partners to thrive in this ever changing environment.”

Netflix is currently in development on John Henry and The Statesman with Johnson attached to star and Seven Bucks Productions, among others, producing.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 2/26/19;
Disney;
Animated;
Box Office $199.89 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $44.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some action and rude humor.
Voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Flula Borg.

The original Wreck-In Ralph from 2012 got a lot of mileage from the nostalgia its audience would have for classic video games, as it told the story of video game characters wanting to be more than the parameters of their programming.

In particular, Ralph (voiced John C. Reilly), hated his reputation as a video game villain, but eventually came to accept his role in the game as the other characters realized that they couldn’t exist either without him.

In Ralph Breaks the Internet, it’s six years later and Ralph has settled into a content life alongside his new best friend Vanellope from the Sugar Rush racing game, whom he helped save in the first movie, embracing his day job smashing buildings while spending nights hanging out at other games in the arcade.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Vanellope, on the other hand, has grown bored with her racing game and longs for new tracks and hidden levels. She gets her opportunity for a new adventure when the steering wheel on her game breaks and, when the arcade owner balks at the cost of replacing it, she and Ralph head to the Internet to see if they can find the means to replace it themselves.

After a quick trip through eBay, the pair find themselves in an online game called Slaughter Race that offers new driving challenges that excite Vanellope. As she contemplates staying there, Ralph worries about losing his best friend and schemes to convince her to return to the arcade.

Ralph Breaks the Internet does for the World Wide Web what the first film did for video games, offering a steady stream of nostalgia, deep-cut references and sharp observational humor.

The film even gives Disney a chance to engage in some self-parody, as Vanellope visits a Disney website and meets all the Disney Princesses, allowing the filmmakers to poke fun at the tropes of a typical Disney film. They instruct Vanellope, who is technically a princess herself according to her Sugar Rush bio, that when the time is right, she’ll learn about her heart’s true desire through a song — leading to an off-kilter take on the traditional Disney musical number (and, taking the gag further, the Blu-ray includes a music video for a bubblegum pop version of the song, which has to do with Vanellope’s desire to play the aforementioned game with “slaughter” in its title).

On the other hand, the various references to mega-successful Disney properties such as the Princesses, Pixar, “Star Wars” and Marvel Comics could be seen as the studio basking a bit in its own dominance at the moment. (Perhaps we should be grateful they didn’t cram in a preview for the pending Disney+ streaming service). But, such meta-humor is the kind of thing the “Ralph” movies are in a unique position to get away with, as it practically comes with the premise (an early reference to Tron is particularly apt, all things considered).

Like this story? Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

In all, though, the film delivers with some exciting action sequences that build on the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope, and a sentimental story about the evolving nature of friendship.

The making of the film is the subject of the Blu-ray’s 33-minute “How We Broke the Internet” featurette, which is segmented into the development of various story points and characters. A separate 10-minute featurette focuses on the film’s music.

The three-and-a-half-minute “Surfing for Easter Eggs” talks about some of the film’s hidden references, but seems more interested in providing cutesy narration than loading up on interesting information.

A two-minute “Baby Drivers — Slaughter Racing School” featurette is offered as a digital exclusive, available with purchases of the digital edition of the film or through redeeming the digital code included with the Blu-ray.

The disc also includes the two-minute “BuzzTube Cats,” a montage of animated cat videos of the type used to populate background sites in the film.

There are five deleted scenes that total about 19 minutes, most of which are remnants of an earlier draft of the story but which reflect plot elements that did evolve into the final film.

Finally, in addition to the pop version of the Slaughter House song, there’s a trippy music video for the end-credits song “Zero” by Imagine Dragons.