HBO Max Acquires Halsey’s Album-Film, ‘If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power’

Singer Halsey’s If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power Film Experience will debut Oct. 7 on HBO Max in the U.S. as a Max Original film. The WarnerMedia streaming platform acquired the movie after a limited theatrical run on Imax theaters, which generated nearly $1 million in ticket sales at more than 70 theaters globally.

Set to the music of Halsey’s (Ashley Nicolette Frangipane) fourth studio album, the film experience stars the two-time Grammy nominee as the young and pregnant Queen Lila. After a shocking event, Lila unlocks a paranormal power within and discovers her ability to create life (and end it).

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The horror-tinged fairytale explores the labyrinth of sexuality and birth. The film was written by Halsey and directed by Colin Tilley.

Oct. 9 Halsey will make her fourth appearance as musical guest on “Saturday Night Live.” “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” recently debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart — her third consecutive release chart topper. Hailed as Halsey’s best album yet by Vulture, “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” also topped Billboard’s Alternative Albums, Vinyl Albums and Tastemaker Albums charts and claimed the No. 1 position on the Spotify Top 10 Global Album Debuts chart.

HBO Max Reveals Further Euro Expansion Plans, 45-Day Theatrical Window

WarnerMedia Oct. 5 disclosed new details on the expansion of branded streaming platform HBO Max. The SVOD service, which aims to be available in 190 countries by 2026, will expand European service to 27 countries, including Turkey, Greece, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Holland in 2022.

Other Eastern European countries previously announced getting Max in 2022 include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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In a further departure from its controversial 2021 domestic Warner Bros. Pictures’ theatrical release strategy that included simultaneous availability on Max, all 2022 box office releases in Europe will have a 45-day exclusive window, mirroring the policy for Asia as well. The window is currently in effect in Scandinavia.

“We have been entertaining fans in Europe since our first HBO TV channel launched in Hungary back in 1991 and have been streaming on the continent for more than a decade with our HBO branded streaming services,”  Christina Sulebakk, GM of HBO Max EMEA, said in a statement. “HBO Max represents the arrival of a new service that will take this to another level, offering an enhanced viewing experience and a much broader content line-up of the best entertainment for all the family at a very attractive price point.”

Indeed, Max subscribers in Scandinavia and Spain will see their previous HBO monthly subscription price drop from $14.99 to around $10.

Code Confab: Jason Kilar Has Lots of Regrets

WarnerMedia is entering the final quarter of an unconventional year that has seen the media company upend its theatrical release strategy for streaming (HBO Max), while parent AT&T plans to relinquish operational control of the company to a third-party (Discovery) in 2022 for $43 billion.

That’s a lot on the plate of CEO Jason Kilar, who was further scrutinized about it all Sept. 28 at Vox Media’s Code Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. In a Q&A with MSNBC’s Stephanie Rhule, Kilar again defended and apologized for his decision to simultaneously release Warner Bros. Pictures’ entire 2021 movie slate free to Max subscribers.

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The abrupt move, which started Christmas Day 2020 with Wonder Woman 1984, helped jumpstart Max’s sluggish subscriptions — at the expense of some movie directors, producers and talent. HBO and HBO Max had 47 million combined subs at the end of June — up more than 10 million from the previous-year period.

“We endeavored to do the right thing in terms of communication,” Kilar said. “But I would be the first one to say, and the responsibility rests on my shoulders, that in hindsight, we should have taken the better part of a month to have over 170 conversations, which is the number of participants that are in our 2021 film slate.”

In reality, Kilar said Warner Bros. spent a less than week outlining the move — a decision that didn’t sit well within the industry, and reportedly led some calls for the Directors Guild of America to boycott the studio. Longtime studio director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Tenet) has taken his next project to Universal Pictures.

Meanwhile, with Discovery CEO David Zaslav set to run the new “Warner Bros. Discovery” company next year, Kilar acknowledged his time at the controls is winding down. While no word on Kilar’s employment status has been made, the former Hulu chief executive admitted he was disappointed the job wouldn’t last another decade or two.

“But that’s not the way corporate America works,” he said.

Warner Celebrating Clint Eastwood on His 50th Year of Partnering With the Studio

As Clint Eastwood enters his eighth decade in the movies, WarnerMedia and Warner Bros. are celebrating the actor/producer/filmmaker with a series of initiatives, including Blu-ray and digital releases, a nine-episode docuseries, an HBO Max spotlight page, a curated exhibit of props and costumes spanning his 50-year association with Warner Bros., a theatrical re-release of select Eastwood films, and Clint Eastwood programming on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

This year marks the 50th year of Eastwood’s partnership with Warner Bros. (“Dirty Harry”). Eastwood’s most recent film Cry Macho was released theatrically and on HBO Max on Sept. 17.

From Sept. 9 through Oct. 31, HBO Max will launch a spotlight page featuring select Clint Eastwood films, including the recently-released Cry Macho and seven episodes of the “Clint Eastwood — A Cinematic Legacy” docuseries.

WarnerMedia will launch “Clint Eastwood — A Cinematic Legacy” in Dallas, an exhibition of props and costumes from 50 years of filmmaking at Warner Bros. along with memorabilia from Clint Eastwood’s personal collection. Items include the Gran Torino car from the 2008 film Gran Torino, boxing gloves from 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, Bradley Cooper’s costume from 2014’s American Sniper, the saxophone from 1988’s Bird, Clint Eastwood’s director’s chair, and more.  The exhibition runs from Oct. 6 until Nov. 29 at the AT&T Global Headquarters Showcase in Dallas.

Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will air Clint Eastwood programming including feature films and two episodes of the docuseries per night.

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This fall, CNN will feature editorial content highlighting Eastwood’s career and the docuseries.

Also this fall, in select theaters, Warner Bros. will re-release six of Eastwood’s classic films theatrically, each one paired with an episode from the docuseries that highlights the feature film. The films include American Sniper, Gran Torino, Dirty Harry, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven and The Bridges of Madison County.

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On Nov. 5, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release “Clint Eastwood — A Cinematic Legacy,” a nine-episode docuseries exploring Eastwood’s 50 years of filmmaking at Warner Bros. Episodes include:

  • Episode 1 –      “A Director’s Vision”
  • Episode 2 –      “The Heart of a Hero”
  • Episode 3 –      “Witness to History”
  • Episode 4 –      “Reinventing the Western”
  • Episode 5 –      “An Actor’s Director”
  • Episode 6 –      “No Holds Barred”
  • Episode 7 –      “Fighting for Justice”
  • Episode 8 –      “Courage Under Fire”
  • Episode 9 –      “Triple Threat”

 

The “Clint Eastwood – A Cinematic Legacy” docuseries will be available digitally and will also be available in select Blu-ray collections, including:

  • “Clint Eastwood 50th MGM 4-Film Collection” (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Hang ‘Em High)
  • “Clint Eastwood 50th 5-Film Collection” (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, The Dead Pool)
  • “Clint Eastwood 50th 4-Film Collection” (The Mule, Gran Torino, American Sniper, Sully)
  • “Clint Eastwood 50th 2-Film Collection” (The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider)
  • “Clint Eastwood 50th 10-Film Collection” (Kelly’s Heroes, Where Eagles Dare, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Pale Rider, Heartbreak Ridge, Unforgiven, Dirty Harry, City Heat, Gran Torino, American Sniper)

AT&T CFO: WarnerMedia Sale to Discovery Expected to Close First Half of 2022

AT&T’s WarnerMedia minority stake sale to Discovery remains on schedule to close in the first six months of 2022, according to AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches.

Speaking at the virtual Bank of America Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Desroches said the $43 billion deal affording Discovery operating control of Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO and Turner is in compliance with government rules surrounding antitrust issues, adding he saw no reason why the merger wouldn’t be approved.

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“We feel really good about the ability of this to be approved,” he said.

Pascal Desroches

After racking up $180 billion in debt acquiring assets, including Time Warner (now WarnerMedia) and DirecTV, AT&T has been selling off minority stakes (and operating control) in both companies and others in an effort to reduce debt, generate cash and focus on its legacy telecom business, in addition to broadband and 5G distribution.

The telecom is selling Vrio, the Latin American operating unit of DirecTV with more than 10 million subscribers, to a private Argentinian company. This week it announced a reported $50 million sale of tabloid channel TMZ to Fox Corp.

AT&T CEO John Stankey has also suggested a possible merger between DirecTV and Dish Network assets — a move the latter’s founder/chairman Charlie Ergen has been advocating for years.

CFO: Discovery Eyeing Ad-Lite Options for HBO Max, Discovery+

The pending $43 billion merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia is set to create a new company called Warner Bros. Discovery. How that combination will affect each company’s branded SVOD platform remains “the $64,000 question,” one Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels shed little new light on.

Speaking Sept. 13 at the virtual Banc of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Wiedenfels reiterated that the combined companies would realize $3 billion in synergies, including merging backend technologies driving the respective direct-to-consumer platforms, in addition to increasing average-revenue-per-subscriber, or ARPU.

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“I have no doubt we are creating one of the content powerhouses in the world,” Wiedenfels said. “As a consumer, I can’t wait to access to that kind of a content portfolio.”

Gunnar Wiedenfels

HBO Max and HBO ended the most-recent fiscal period with 47 million combined domestic subs, and 67.5 million subs globally. Discovery+ topped 17 million paid subs through the second quarter (ended June 30), and 18 million through Aug. 3.

Whether that translates into a combined streaming service or co-bundled combo, and at what price points, Wiedenfels wouldn’t address. He said both companies spent much of the summer ironing out details, including complementary content portfolios, and have “pretty much” a plan in place with a few “tweaks here and there” that he said would remain under wraps until the merger passes regulatory approval.

“I think [Discovery CEO] David [Zaslav] and the team have a pretty clear view,” he said. “Their whole strategy will be guided by what the consumer wants. I think we have our ducks aligned here. I’m really looking forward to coming out with more [details] as we go along.”

When asked about ad-supported options for Max and Discovery+, Wiedenfels said senior management would look “very hard” at the concept, adding that he believes Discovery and Max’s content alone justify a monthly subscription.

“That’s going to continue to be the priority,” he said.

The CFO admitted that an ad-based less expensive option of Discovery+ actually generates higher ARPU than the ad-free SVOD, adding that so-called “ad-lite” SVOD versions are being considered for rollout in Europe.

“It continues to be a focus area for us,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to be in the mix going forward. Whether at some point there may be an AVOD-only, subscription-free product, that remains to be seen. But it’s not a priority.”

HBO Max Launching in Europe Oct. 26

WarnerMedia Sept. 8  announced that the HBO Max subscription streaming video platform will launch in Europe on Oct. 26 with Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra being the first six European countries — and second international launch for the streamer.

Max will be unveiled to Europe at a virtual launch event next month, showcasing the product and content offering, price points and much more.

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In 2022, Max will become available in the following 14 Eastern European countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Additional territory launches are also planned for next year.

“This is a historic moment as HBO Max lands in Europe,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “WarnerMedia movies and series like ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ are passionately consumed by fans all across Europe, and Max has been created to provide them with the most intuitive and convenient viewing experience to watch these and a diverse range of other amazing titles.”

“The unique and exclusive combination of iconic content from Warner Bros., HBO, DC, Cartoon Network, Max Originals, including local productions and more, creates a streaming platform that fans in Europe will love,” added Christina Sulebakk, GM of HBO Max EMEA. “We see enormous potential as we roll-out the all-new, supercharged streaming platform across the region.”

Max will be available to new customers as well as existing customers of HBO España, HBO Nordic and HBO Go (billed either directly or via eligible partners).

In May this year Max celebrated its one-year anniversary in the United States. and in June launched in 39 territories across Latin America and the Caribbean, marking its first availability outside the United States. The platform ended the most-recent fiscal period with 47 million domestic subscribers, 67.5 million globally, when combined with HBO. It is projected to end the year with 73 million combined subs.

Warner Bros. Implementing 45-Day Theatrical Window for Southeast Asia Movie Releases

With WarnerMedia’s unprecedented 2021 concurrent theatrical/SVOD release strategy in its final four months, Warner Bros. is reportedly implementing a 45-day theatrical window for new releases in select Southeast Asia markets.

Beginning with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, which is currently screening in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, WarnerMedia will make the title available on the HBO Go streaming platform within 45 days. HBO Max has not yet launched in Southeast Asia.

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Warner streams theatrical titles in the United States concurrently for 31 days on HBO Max. The studio plans to implement a 45-day theatrical window for most new releases in 2022.

“This new windowing strategy is great news for fans that haven’t been able to catch our movies in cinemas,” Amit Malhotra, managing director for HBO Max/Go in Southeast Asia/India, said in a statement. “With the addition of the latest Warner Bros. movie slate, HBO Go continues its reputation as the region’s exclusive streaming home for the very biggest and best from the world of entertainment.”

Pending 2021 Southeast Asia releases include Space Jam: A New Legacy, In the Heights, Reminiscence, Dune, Malignant, Cry Macho, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard and The Matrix: Resurrections.

DC Fandome Streaming Event Returning Oct. 16

DC Fandome, an online Comic-Con alternative for WarnerMedia properties, will return Saturday, Oct. 16, at 10 a.m. PT.

The free virtual event will once again give fans of superhero, sci-fi and other genre programming a chance to immerse themselves in content at DCFanDome.com and celebrate the stars and creators of their favorite feature films, live-action and animated television series, games, comics, home entertainment releases and more. Casts and creators behind fan-favorite DC games, comics, movies and TV shows will gather to unveil breaking news, exclusive trailers and announcements, never-before-seen footage, revealing conversations, and more surprises in the DC FanDome.

“DC FanDome 2020 was a first-of-its kind global virtual fan experience and showcased every aspect of the DC Universe with unprecedented scale and access. This year, we’re taking everything that people loved about DC FanDome and supercharging it to super-serve fans with even more exclusive first-looks, breaking news, in-depth interviews and insight from the stars and creative teams of their favorite DC content,” Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, said in a statement.

The 2020 event generated more than 22 million global views across 220 countries and territories with more than 150 million views of trailer content.

DC FanDome 2021 will stream via Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, giving fans more ways to watch the events unfolding in DC FanDome’s Hall of Heroes. Additionally, DC Kids FanDome will launch the same day with a special kid-friendly experience accessed separately at DCKidsFanDome.com.

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Among the schedule for DC FanDome 2021:

  • Warner Bros. Pictures will showcase six titles, with an exclusive trailer for The Batman, new content from DC League of Super-Pets, a first look at Black Adam, a sneak peek at The Flash, and behind-the-scenes looks at Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
  • Warner Bros. Television will offer a look at new seasons of “Batwoman,” “The Flash,” “Superman & Lois” and “Sweet Tooth”; a farewell tribute to “Supergirl” as it approaches its finale after six seasons; a celebration of 100 episodes of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”; a first look at forthcoming new drama “Naomi”; and a sneak peek at an upcoming episode of “DC’s Stargirl.”
  • Warner Bros. Games will feature new reveals from the highly anticipated Gotham Knights, developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal, and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, developed by Rocksteady Studios.
  • HBO Max will unveil an exclusive look at the upcoming series “Peacemaker” and limited event series “DMZ.” The streamer is also debuting more surprises and sneak peeks from new series as well as returning favorites such as “Titans” and “Doom Patrol.” All four series hail from Warner Bros. Television.
  • Warner Bros. Animation will feature a look at the upcoming limited series “Aquaman: King of Atlantis”; provide a sneak peek at season three of the adult animated comedy series “Harley Quinn” and share what’s in store for #HarIvy; deliver a very early look at the next animated chapter of the Dark Knight in the all-new upcoming series “Batman: Caped Crusader”; and give fans a preview of “Young Justice: Phantoms” (promoters have issued a spoiler warning).
  • Warner Bros Home Entertainment will preview two upcoming original DC Animated Films: a sneak peek at Superman and the rest of the Justice League in Injustice, an all-new animated movie inspired by the popular games and comic, as well as the premiere of the trailer for the all-new animated heist movie Catwoman: Hunted. Both movies are produced in association with Warner Bros. Animation.
  • DC publishing will showcase a number of upcoming comic books, including tie-ins to the 80th anniversary of Wonder Woman.

 

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Through the end of October, Warner Bros. Consumer Products is offering the DC FanDome Shop in the United States with additional territories around the world to follow, allowing fans from across the globe to stock up on DC FanDome apparel, accessories, collectibles and more. Featuring exclusive DC Comics merchandise, the DC FanDome Shop will drop new items every week leading up to the main event Oct. 16.

In addition, leading up to DC FanDome and the event day itself, online comics database DC Universe Infinite will be releasing more than 300 comics and graphic novels available to read for free with registration. New titles will be available each week, starting with the complete storyline of Flashpoint, fan-favorite series Injustice: Gods Among Us Vol. 1 and, available for the first time on DC Universe Infinite, The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes.

HBO Max Launching New Kids Cartoon Network Sept. 13

WarnerMedia is taking a new approach to children’s programming. The media company is set to launch the new “Cartoonito” preschool block on Sept. 13 on HBO Max and Cartoon Network. The new platform offers a modern approach to preschool programming with a focus on “humancentric learning,” including programming that celebrates individuality and originality, while championing creativity, compassion and inclusion.

The humancentric learning framework developed in partnership with educational psychologist Dr. Laura Brown, which aims to help children develop their unique potential and encourage them to treat others with compassion, respect and fairness.

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On Max, Cartoonito will be presented as a dedicated page featuring a collection of new preschool shows, including “Little Ellen” and the second season of the “The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo,” along with other staples such as “Esme & Roy” and “Sesame Street,” among others.

Cartoonito on Cartoon Network will be available Monday through Friday (6 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET/PT) and will include new series “Bing,” “Mush-Mush & The Mushables” and “Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go.” Preschoolers and families can also tune in Saturday-Sunday (6 to 8 a.m. ET/PT) for additional new Cartoonito shows, including “Lucas the Spider.”

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“Cartoonito’s offerings on Max and Cartoon Network will reflect a wide array of diverse content that connects kids and their caregivers through relatable stories, lovable characters and meaningful social emotional learning both in and between the shows,” Amy Friedman, head of kids and family programming at WarnerMedia, said in a statement.