Dwayne Johnson’s Egyptian antihero kneels before no one in first Black Adam trailer

Dwayne John stars as Teth-Adam, future arch-enemy of Shazam, in Black Adam.

It has been 15 long years since Dwayne Johnson first expressed interest in playing Black Adam, a classic DC Comics supervillain dating back to the 1940s. The project was stuck in development hell for years, but the film is finally coming to theaters this fall. And we now have the first trailer for Black Adam, giving us a peek at the character’s origin story and his inevitable encounter with the Justice League of America (JSA).

(Spoilers for some of the comics below.)

The character made a cameo appearance as a villain in the first issue of The Marvel Family comics in 1945. Canonically, he is an ancient Egyptian named Teth-Adam, whom the wizard Shazam chooses to be the latter’s successor. Teth-Adam was presumed to be pure of heart, but once endowed with the powers of Shazam, he became corrupt, killed the ruling pharaoh, and took over the Egyptian throne. Shazam was unable to revoke those powers, so he exiled Teth-Adam to the most distant star in the universe.

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#black-adam, #dc-comics, #dceu, #entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #trailers, #warner-bros

Sparks fly between Caped Crusader and Catwoman in latest The Batman trailer

Robert Pattinson stars in the dual role of Gotham City’s vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne, in The Batman.

Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), aka Batman, must grapple with a taunting serial killer and his family’s potential links to long-standing corruption in Gotham City in the latest trailer for The Batman. But he’s still got time for some heavily flirtatious fisticuffs with Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), which should delight “Bat/Cat” shippers everywhere. The studio has helpfully titled the trailer “The Bat and the Cat,” lest anyone miss the intended focus.

As I’ve written previously, the original plan was to set the film within the DCEU, after the events of Justice League. But as Warner Bros. was rethinking the shared-universe model for its superhero films in favor of standalone films and franchises, Ben Affleck announced he was stepping down as director, and the studio replaced him with Matt Reeves. Affleck would eventually withdraw from the project altogether, following his divorce from Jennifer Garner and a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse.

Reeves said that the plot would follow a series of murders, revealing the history of corruption in Gotham and how Bruce’s family is linked to that corruption. The classic bad guys—the Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman—are also in the early stages of their development into full-fledged villains. Reeves has cited Alfred Hitchcock as a major influence on the overall look and feel of his film, as well as Chinatown, The French Connection, and Taxi Driver.

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#entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #the-batman, #warner-bros

Review: Matrix Resurrections has just enough of the old magic to delight fans

Keanu Reeves returns as Neo in <em>The Matrix Resurrections</em>

Enlarge / Keanu Reeves returns as Neo in The Matrix Resurrections (credit: Warner Bros.)

After nearly 20 years, moviegoers finally have the change to revisit the imaginative cyberpunk world of 1999’s The Matrix with the fourth installment in the sci-fi franchise: The Matrix Resurrections. It’s not a perfect film, but there’s enough of the old magic to delight longtime fans. The stars still radiate chemistry, there are plenty of cameos and sly nods to the franchise throughout, and the familiar themes have been subtly updated to make them more relevant than ever.

(Some minor spoilers below, but no major reveals.)

As I’ve written previously, it’s difficult to overstate the deep cultural impact of The Matrix. It redefined the sci-fi film genre and shaped an entire generation of fans—plus, it raked in $460 million worldwide, garnered multiple Oscars, and sent star Keanu Reeves’ already healthy career into the Hollywood stratosphere. Cyberpunk author William Gibson called The Matrix “an innocent delight I hadn’t felt in a long time,” and he named Neo as his all-time favorite sci-fi action hero.

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Neo discovers he still knows kung fu in latest Matrix Resurrections trailer

Official trailer #2 for The Matrix Resurrections.

Not even a full week has gone by since we got an exciting new trailer for The Matrix Resurrections, but with the film’s premiere just two weeks away, Warner Bros. is clearly intent on amping up the excitement. The company released another trailer on Monday, and while new footage is in short supply, everything we’ve seen thus far is finally put into useful context.

The first trailer was released in September and was set to Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” to drive home the red pill/blue pill theme. We saw Neo in therapy with a smarmy psychiatrist played by Neil Patrick Harris, and it soon became clear that we were in a brave new Matrix-constructed world. People take two blue pills daily, and everyone is glued to their iPhones and tablets—whatever it takes to keep the masses sedated.

Last week’s trailer was aptly titled “Déjà Vu” since it riffed on that key moment from the first Matrix film when Neo saw the same black cat walk past a doorway in the Lafayette Hotel. We learned that the entire preceding “reality”—i.e., the events of the original trilogy—had been changed, but not many other details were revealed.

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New trailer for The Matrix Resurrections is heavy on the déjà vu

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their respective starring roles as Neo and Trinity in The Matrix Resurrections.

We’re just a few weeks away from the release of The Matrix Resurrections, and Warner Bros. is whetting our appetites with a shiny new trailer.

As we’ve reported previously, series writers/directors Lilly and Lana Wachowski didn’t originally intend to make another Matrix film after Revolutions, but rumors about a possible fourth film have been swirling since 2012. Lilly Wachowski went so far as to call the prospect “a particularly repelling idea in these times” in a 2015 interview—a sharp critique of Hollywood’s preference for sequels, reboots, and adaptations.

Nonetheless, Warner Bros. officially announced the fourth film in August 2019. Lana Wachowski signed on to direct and co-write the film with novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) and Aleksandar Hemon (Sense8). Lilly Wachowski gave the project her blessing but declined to be involved, partly because she was busy with Showtime’s Work in Progress.

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Robert Pattinson broods and batters his way through new The Batman trailer

Robert Pattinson stars as billionaire Bruce Wayne, aka the Caped Crusader, in director Matt Reeves’ forthcoming film, The Batman.

Robert Pattinson is appropriately dark and brooding and beating up bad guys in the latest trailer for The Batman, which debuted at DC FanDome this weekend. Directed by Matt Reeves, the film’s release has been delayed multiple times, but will finally hit theaters next March.

As I’ve written previously, the original plan was to set the film within the DCEU, after the events of Justice League. But as Warner Bros. was rethinking the shared-universe model for its superhero films in favor of standalone films and franchises, Affleck announced he was stepping down as director, and the studio replaced him with Reeves. Affleck would eventually withdraw from the project altogether, following his divorce from Jennifer Garner and a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse.

Reeves brought a very different vision to The Batman, saying that he wanted it to be “an almost noir-driven, detective version of Batman,” focused on Bruce Wayne’s second year fighting crime as the Caped Crusader, rather than once again retelling the character’s origin story. 

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#dc-films, #entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #robert-pattinson, #the-batman, #warner-bros

G.I. Joe goes triple-A with new game headed by ex-WB developers

G.I. Joe goes triple-A with new game headed by ex-WB developers

Enlarge (credit: Hasbro)

Consider this a public service announcement big enough for Flint, Gung-Ho, and Alpine to host: G.I. Joe, one of the United States’ longest-running comic and cartoon series, appears to finally be on the verge of returning to console video games in a major way.

Magic: The Gathering creators Wizards of the Coast are making a new game in the franchise with ex-WB Games developers—the first project for a new, as-yet-unnamed triple-A studio. As listed in multiple job posts on its career page, the company is looking to fill positions at the development house, currently called “New Raleigh-Durham Studio,” for a multiplatform third-person action game set “in the G.I. Joe universe.”

Wizards, a division of Hasbro (which also owns the G.I. Joee brand), states the developer is being headed by experienced ex-staffers from WB Games and other major studios, though the listings suggest it’s still recruiting for some senior positions, including lead game designer and art director.

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Matrix: Resurrections trailer is sheer perfection, both fresh and familiar

Those attending last month’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas were treated to a sneak preview of the first trailer for The Matrix: Resurrections, the fourth installment in the hugely influential franchise that launched with the premiere of The Matrix in 1999. But the trailer was not released to the general public—until now. The Resurrections title is apt, since we do indeed seem to be going back to the beginning: an alternate version of that simulated reality, with some new faces and many similar shots, and very much the same theme of discovering (or in this case, rediscovering) one’s power. It’s at once familiar and fresh… in other words, sheer perfection.

(Spoilers for first three films in the franchise below.)

It’s hard to overstate the deep cultural impact of The Matrix. It redefined the sci-fi film genre and shaped an entire generation of fans—plus, it raked in $460 million worldwide, garnered multiple Oscars, and sent star Keanu Reeves’ already healthy career into the Hollywood stratosphere. We still refer to taking the “red pill” when searching for a metaphor to represent choosing between an unsettling, life-changing truth or blissful ignorance. Who can forget Reeves’ meme-worthy utterances (“Whoa!” or “I know kung fu”) or Laurence Fishburne’s fabulous sunglasses-wearing Morpheus? This is also the film that gave us “bullet time”: a special effect—used for the rooftop scene where Neo (Reeves) dodges bullets fired by one of the Matrix’s Agents—in which the shot progresses in slow motion while the camera appears to move at a normal speed through the scene.

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#gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #keanu-reeves, #lana-wachowski, #the-matrix, #the-matrix-resurrections, #warner-bros

Latest Dune trailer gives us our best look yet at Denis Villeneuve’s epic film

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the much-anticipated release of filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic science fiction novel Dune. The movie was originally slated for a November 2020 release before moving to December, but the winter surge of COVID-19 ultimately crushed those hopes. It was rescheduled to October 1, 2021, then bumped yet again to October 22. That date still holds (fingers crossed!), and Warner Bros. just released a new three-minute trailer showcasing tons of new footage from the film.

As we’ve reported previously (here and here), Herbert’s Dune is set in the distant future and follows the fortunes of various noble houses in what amounts to a feudal interstellar society. Much of the action takes place on the planet Arrakis, where the economy is driven largely by a rare, life-extending drug called melange (“the spice”). Melange also conveys a kind of prescience and makes faster-than-light travel practical. There’s betrayal, a prophecy concerning a messianic figure, giant sandworms, and battle upon battle, as protagonist Paul Atreides (a duke’s son) contends with rival House Harkonnen and strives to defeat the forces of Shaddam IV, Emperor of the Known Universe.

When Dune was first published, The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the monuments of modern science fiction.” Astronomers have used the names of fictional planets in Dune to identify various topographical features on Saturn’s moon Titan. Herbert wrote five sequels, and the franchise also includes board games, computer games, and numerous prequels and sequels written by his son Brian Herbert with the help of Kevin J. Anderson.

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Electronic Arts buys mobile game studio Playdemic for $1.4 billion

Video game giant Electronic Arts is continuing to make M&A moves as it looks to bulk up its presence in the mobile gaming world.

Fresh off the $2.4 billion acquisition of Glu Mobile this past April, their biggest purchase to date, Electronic Arts announced Wednesday that they are buying Warner Bros. Games’ mobile gaming studio Playdemic for $1.4 billion in an all-cash deal. The Manchester studio is best known for its release “Golf Clash” which the studio boasts has more than 80 million downloads globally.

The rather ominously-named startup is being jettisoned to its new home ahead of the $43 billion WarnerMedia-Discovery deal where the rest of the Warner Bros. Games division will live post-merger.

Electronic Arts is the second-largest Western video games company with a market cap around $40 billion. Their success has largely come from desktop and console titles including titles in their most popular franchises like Battlefield, Star Wars and Titanfall. Mobile dominance hasn’t come easy to the company which has spent much of the past decade or so trying to keep pace with competitors like Activision Blizzard which struck gold with its 2016 King acquisition. 

Electronic Arts has been on a studio buying spree as of late — in 2021 they’ve announced three major acquisitions worth some $5 billion combined.

#activision, #activision-blizzard, #companies, #electronic-arts, #gaming, #glu-mobile, #king, #titanfall, #video-gaming, #warner-bros, #warnermedia

The “loser, B-grade supervillains” are back in new The Suicide Squad trailer

Australian actor Jai Courtney introduces a new “early access” trailer from Warner Bros. for director James Gunn’s forthcoming The Suicide Squad, in which Courtney reprises his role as Captain Boomerang from 2016’s Suicide Squad. It’s got quite bit of new footage and some small additional details (such as why Idris Elba’s Bloodsport is in prison in the first place). Each of the three trailers released so far has been better than the last, so we have high hopes for this film.

As I’ve written previouslyThe Suicide Squad is not a direct sequel to the 2016 film; Gunn has said he wanted to take the franchise in a new direction and introduce new characters. He drew inspiration from writer John Ostrander‘s original 1980s Suicide Squad comics. (Ostrander has a small role in the final film.) Gunn has described his R-rated film as a superhero version of the classic 1967 film The Dirty Dozen, selecting characters he described as “loser, B-grade supervillains.”

Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis reprise their 2016 roles as Col. Rick Flag and Intelligence Officer Amanda Waller, respectively, with Steve Agee playing John Economos, prison warden and aide to Waller. The squad this time around includes Elba’s Bloodsport, Peacemaker (John Cena), Courtney’s Captain Boomerang, Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Savant (Michael Rooker), King Shark (voiced by Rooker’s Cliffhanger co-star Sylvester Stallone), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), Javelin (Flula Borg), and everyone’s favorite psycho, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).

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Warner Bros. releases trailer for noir-esque sci-fi thriller Reminiscence

Hugh Jackman stars as a man who helps clients recover lost memories in the sci-fi thriller Reminiscence.

A solitary man living in a dystopian near-future helps people recover lost memories and ends up uncovering a violent conspiracy in Reminiscence, a sci-fi thriller that feels like a cross between classic film noir and ambitiously heady fare like Memento and Inception. That’s no surprise, as it’s the feature film directorial debut of Lisa Joy, co-creator (with husband Jonathan Nolan) of HBO’s critically acclaimed series Westworld.

Per the official premise:

Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman), a private investigator of the mind, navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae’s disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?

During a virtual event on Wednesday, Joy said she was inspired to make Reminiscence after finding an old photograph among her grandfather’s belongings. The picture was of an unknown woman her grandfather had never mentioned to anyone in the family. “It made me start to think about memory and our lives in general,” she said. “And the moments that maybe pass by, and maybe disappear—they don’t stay with us, those connections necessarily—but that meant something, that changed us and touched us. And how nice it would be able to go back to these memories fully for a moment, to live that life and feel the way you felt when you experienced them.”

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#entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #hugh-jackman, #lisa-joy, #warner-bros

HBO Max launches ad-supported subscription for $9.99 per month

“Game of Thrones” might be over, but HBO Max is still breaking new ground, and even breaking the internet – this past weekend, HBO Max blacked out right before the finale of “Mare of Easttown,” likely due to traffic. But if you haven’t hopped aboard the HBO Max train yet, it might be time to try it out. Today, the streaming platform premieres an ad-supported subscription at $9.99 per month. Its existing service – which features no ads – costs $14.99 per month. Subscribers can save 15% on their subscription, no matter which version they choose, if they pre-pay for an entire year. 

The advertisements aren’t the only drawback of the more affordable subscription option. The ad-supported tier offers a maximum quality of 1080p, which is still pretty good for most consumers, unless you’re watching “Friends: The Reunion” in your 4k home theater. But, lower-tier subscribers won’t be able to download content to view offline, nor will they have access to same-day film premieres of Warner Bros.’s newest theatrical releases. However, these films will become available to stream months after release. On the bright side, ads will not appear on original HBO programming.

With just four minutes of ad time per hour, the ad-supported tier “launches with a commitment” to maintaining the lowest volume of commercials among popular streaming services. HBO Max follows in the footsteps of Hulu, which also offers a discounted subscription with ads for $5.99 per month, as opposed to $11.99 per month. But on Hulu, a half-hour show can contain almost five minutes of unskippable ad time. Meanwhile, Netflix offers its most basic plan – which allows streaming on one screen at a time without HD – for $8.99 per month. Its standard plan is $13.99 a month. Now that HBO Max has a more competitively priced option, it might give these other platforms a run for their money. 

What kinds of ads can you expect to see on HBO Max? The company says that subscribers can expect “a greater personalization in the ads they see” over time, with “more innovation in formats to come.” This could resemble the ad experience on Hulu, which has experimented with viewer-friendly binge-watch ads.

As of April 2021, HBO Max and HBO reached a combined 44.2 million subscribers, and in Q1 of the year, added 2.7 million domestic subscribers. By comparison, Netflix reported an increase of 4 million subscribers in the same period, bringing them to about 207 million global subscribers. However, only 450,000 of those new subscribers come from the US and Canada.

On June 29, HBO Max will launch in 39 Latin American markets. Later in the year, the streaming service is expected to roll out in Europe. This will only further the platform’s rapid growth – in 2019, AT&T, which owns HBO Max, set the modest goal to attain 50 million subscribers by 2025. Now, HBO Max expects it will reach between 120 million and 150 million subscribers by the same date.

The ad-supported subscription option for HBO Max is available now.

#apps, #cinemax, #companies, #entertainment, #hbo, #hbo-go, #hbo-max, #hbo-now, #hulu, #max, #netflix, #streaming-services, #television, #warner-bros

It’s the Tune Squad vs the Good Squad in Space Jam: A New Legacy trailer

The LA Lakers’ LeBron James stars as himself in Space Jam: A New Legacy, a sequel to the 1996 film Space Jam.

NBA basketball star LeBron James and a team of Looney Tunes animated characters must win a virtual basketball game against the digitized champions of an evil A.I. in Space Jam: A New Legacy, a sequel to the 1996 film, Space Jam. With its blend of live action and animation, the original became one of the most iconic films of the 1990s. The sequel updates the basic concept for the virtual age, to create what looks like a cross between The LEGO Movie (and LEGO Movie 2) and Ready Player One, with a dash of TRON for good measure.

(Some spoilers for the original film below,)

Space Jam is basically a fictional account of NBA superstar Michael Jordan’s return to basketball in 1995 after retiring in 1993 to play baseball. (It was inspired by a couple of Nike commercials.) In the film, Jordan falls into the Looney Tunes animated world to help the so-called “Tune Squad”—all the most popular animated Looney Tunes characters—win a basketball game against a group of enslaved aliens called the Nerdlucks. In addition to Jordan, NBA players Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues also make cameos. (The aliens steal the latter five’s talents to transform themselves into formidable opponents.)

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#entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #space-jam-a-new-legacy, #trailers, #warner-bros

Let them fight! Mortal Kombat red-band trailer gives fans what they want

Warner Bros. has released the red-band trailer for its forthcoming Mortal Kombat reboot, which had long languished in development hell. A Russian-dubbed version of the trailer initially leaked on reddit, according to Eurogamer, before being pulled. It’s basically a nonstop, blood-soaked fighting fest, featuring all the fan favorites from the popular video game franchise.

(Some spoilers for the games and earlier films below.)

Midway Games released the first Mortal Kombat game in 1992, which proved hugely influential for many a teenager who frequented video arcades during that era. There have been 11 main games and multiple spinoffs in the franchise thus far, all set in a fictional universe of eight different realms. The greatest warriors from the various realms must compete in a series of Mortal Kombat tournaments to conquer other realms.

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#entertainment, #film, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #mortal-kombat, #warner-bros

Godzilla vs. Kong trailer is a rock ‘em, sock ’em monster mashup

Two powerful forces of nature collide in a battle for the ages in Godzilla vs. Kong, premiering simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max on March 26, 2021.

It’s powerful Titan pitted against Titan in the first trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong, the fourth film released as part of Legendary Picture’s “MonsterVerse” franchise, co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Directed by Adam Wingard, the film is not meant to be a remake of the 1962 Japanese classic, King Kong vs. Godzilla; rather, per Wingard, it will directly tie into the events of its 2019 predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and feature a “more rugged” and aging Kong.

(Some spoilers for some prior films in the MonsterVerse franchise below.)

The MonsterVerse franchise started in 2014 with Godzilla, in which a soldier tries to return to his family while caught in the crossfire of the battle between Godzilla and a pair of parasitic monsters known as MUTOs. The studio followed up three years later with Kong: Skull Island, set in 1973, in which a team of scientists and soldiers travel to the titular Skull Island and encounter Kong, the last survivor of his species. And in 2019, the studio released Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a sequel to the 2014 film, in which Godzilla and Mothra team up to defeat a prehistoric alien named King Ghidorah, who has awakened other ancient creatures (Titans) to destroy the world.

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#film, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #godzilla-vs-kong, #hbo-max, #legendary-pictures, #warner-bros

WW1984 lassos solid box office return, record downloads for HBO Max

<em>Wonder Woman 1984</em> posted the strongest box office showing yet during the pandemic, despite many movie theaters still being shuttered. Warner Bros. just fast-tracked a third film in the franchise with Director Patty Jenkins back at the helm.

Enlarge / Wonder Woman 1984 posted the strongest box office showing yet during the pandemic, despite many movie theaters still being shuttered. Warner Bros. just fast-tracked a third film in the franchise with Director Patty Jenkins back at the helm.

Wonder Woman 1984 has posted the strongest box office showing yet during the ongoing pandemic, despite many movie theaters still being shuttered, raking in an estimated $85 million globally thus far. The film was simultaneously released on HBO Max on Christmas Day, and the streamer also reported that downloads were in high demand. In light of that strong showing (especially given the unprecedented circumstances), Warner Bros. has fast-tracked a third Wonder Woman film, with Patty Jenkins writing and returning as directors and Gal Gadot back in the title role.

“As fans around the world continue to embrace Diana Prince, driving the strong opening weekend performance of Wonder Woman 1984, we are excited to be able to 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 of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.

The studio hasn’t released any hard streaming numbers for HBO Max, just the following statement: “Nearly half of the platform’s retail subscribers viewing the film on the day of its arrival, along with millions of wholesale subscribers who have access to HBO Max via a cable, wireless, or other partner services. HBO Max also saw the total viewing hours on Friday more than triple in comparison to a typical day in the previous month.” But according to Bloomberg News, the market-research firm Apptopia estimated that 554,000 users signed up for the HBO Max app between Friday (Christmas Day) and Sunday. There were 244,000 downloads on Sunday alone, a single-day record for the streaming platform.

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#dceu, #entertainment, #film, #gal-gadot, #gaming-culture, #movie-theaters, #patty-jenkins, #warner-bros, #wonder-woman-1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is fun, but doesn’t quite capture magic of its predecessor

Count me among the many millions who likely logged onto HBO Max on Christmas Day to watch Wonder Woman 1984, Director Patty Jenkins’ hotly anticipated, oft-delayed stand-alone follow-up to her 2017 global blockbuster, Wonder Woman. I’m a major fan of the latter, which gave us our super-powered Amazonian’s origin story, and had high hopes for the follow-up.

Those hopes weren’t completely dashed, but they weren’t really fulfilled either. While Wonder Woman 1984 still has a bit of the old magic, and its leads all turn in terrific performances, the film is hampered by a frequently nonsensical plot, extraneous showy action sequences, and it’s way too heavy-handed with the moralizing. But it still delivers quite a lot of slick, 1980s-infused fun if you turn your brain off and just go with it—and you’ll definitely want to stick around for a post-credits scene.

(Some spoilers below, with a couple of major spoilers below the second gallery. We’ll give you a heads up when we get there.)

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#chris-pine, #dceu, #entertainment, #film-review, #gal-gadot, #gaming-culture, #patty-jenkins, #warner-bros, #wonder-woman-1984

Warner Bros. will release entire 2021 film slate in theaters and on HBO Max

Exterior of a temporarily closed movie theater.

Enlarge / WarnerMedia dealt another blow to struggling movie theater owners by announcing it will release its entire 2021 slate of films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. (credit: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images)

Just a few weeks ago, we learned that Wonder Woman 1984—whose release has been delayed multiple times in the face of continued theater closures due to the pandemic—will keep to its new December 25 theater release date. The catch: it will also debut on HBO Max that same day. Now WarnerMedia has announced that it will follow a similar concurrent digital/theater launch plan for all the movies slated for release in 2021, Variety reports. It’s yet another staggering blow to movie theaters still struggling amidst a raging pandemic that shows no sign of slowing down, particularly in the United States.

“After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months,” said CEO Jason Kilar in a statement. “Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”

Warner Bros.’ 2021 slate of films will be available to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days, after which they will only be playing in theaters. Once the traditional time has elapsed between theater and home release, the films will be available to rent via the usual online platforms (Amazon, iTunes, or Fandango). The current slate includes The Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs. Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Reminiscence, Malignant, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho, and Matrix 4.

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#entertainment, #film, #film-industry, #gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #warner-bros

All of Warner Bros’ theatrical movies will get a simultaneous release on HBO Max next year

Following last month’s news that “Wonder Woman 1984” will be released simultaneously on HBO Max and in U.S. theaters, Warner Bros. and its parent company WarnerMedia just announced that they will follow the same strategy with every theatrical release that they’ve got planned for 2021.

That includes movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Mortal Kombat,” “In The Heights,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” “The Suicide Squad,” “Dune,” the “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark” and “The Matrix 4.” (The WarnerMedia announcement notes that release dates could change, which might move some of these titles out of the scope of today’s announcement.)

These movies will be available on HBO Max for one month, in 4K Ultra HD and HDR, at no additional charge.

Earlier this year, Hollywood studios responded to widespread theatrical by bringing some films straight to streaming while delaying their big releases. The disappointing box office performance of “Tenet” (also from Warner Bros.) prompted additional delays — but as the pandemic stretched on, there was a growing sense that studios couldn’t afford to delay things forever.

For example, Universal had already reached a deal with AMC and other major chains to release movies on premium video on demand just three weeks after they launch in theaters, with the revenue split with theatrical partners.

But WarnerMedia’s announcement seems like an even more dramatic shift — and while it only covers 2021, it could signal potentially long-lasting changes to theaters’ exclusive release window.

This also comes after former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar took over as WarnerMedia’s chief executive in April, a move (followed by multiple rounds of layoffs) that seemed to put streaming front-and-center in the company’s priorities.

In a statement, Kilar said:

After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months. More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.

#hbo-max, #tc, #warner-bros, #warnermedia

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is coming to HBO Max (and some U.S. theaters) on Dec. 25

Although COVID-19 is surging in the United States and around the world, Warner Bros. still plans to release “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day — but its plans are are no longer limited to a theatrical release.

Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot both posted tweets last night announcing that in in the United States, the film will be released simultaneously in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s streaming service HBO Max.

“THE TIME HAS COME,” Jenkins wrote. “At some point you have to choose to share any love you have to give over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.”

A press release from HBO Max offers a few more details: The film will debut in theaters internationally on December 16, then launch in U.S. theaters and on HBO Max on December 25. It will be available to the streaming service’s U.S. subscribers for one month at no additional cost.

While the pandemic caused some films to shift from a theatrical release to streaming, the studios have mostly chosen to delay their big blockbusters. The Wonder Woman sequel (which had already moved around the calendar several times as part of normal Hollywood scheduling) was scheduled for a June release when the pandemic started, with Warner Bros. pushing the date back to August, then from August to Christmas.

Last month, the disappointing box office performance of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” (which Warner Bros. only released in theaters) prompted studios to delay other tentpoles like “Dune,” “No Time To Die” and “The Batman.” But they may not want be able to delay indefinitely — and in the case of WarnerMedia, this also seems like a smart way to drive subscriptions for HBO Max after a rocky launch.

Disney, meanwhile, decided to release its live action “Mulan” remake on Disney+ for an additional $29.99 (while also supporting a theatrical launch in some markets). It will be releasing Pixar’s “Soul” via streaming on Christmas Day at no additional charge.

#entertainment, #hbo-max, #media, #warner-bros, #warnermedia

Robert Pattinson is a broody Caped Crusader in first teaser for The Batman

Robert Pattinson is the latest actor to don the iconic mask and cape in The Batman.

Capping off a long day of sneak peeks, panels, and teaser trailers at DC FanDome this past weekend, Warner Bros. dropped the first teaser for The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson (of High Life and the Twilight franchise) in the title role. It’s directed by Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes), and—surprise, surprise—it’s another dark, gritty take on the classic superhero—this time with more of a film noir/detective story vibe.

There is a long and tangled backstory to this latest incarnation of the classic comic book superhero. We all know that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman for a three-film trilogy in the DCEU: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), and Justice League (2017), which had its own well-publicized production woes. Warner Bros. announced plans for a standalone Batman film in the fall of 2014, with Affleck set to reprise the role, as well as directing and co-writing the screenplay.

The original plan was to set the film within the DCEU, after the events of Justice League. But as Warner Bros. was rethinking the shared-universe model for its superhero films in favor of standalone films and franchises, Affleck announced he was stepping down as director, and the studio replaced him with Reeves. Affleck would eventually withdraw from the project altogether, following his divorce from Jennifer Garner and a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse.

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#dc-fandome, #dc-universe, #entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #robert-pattinson, #the-batman, #warner-bros

New Wonder Woman 1984 trailer offers first look at Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) fights crime in the 1980s in Wonder Woman 1984.

Warner Bros. dropped the latest trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 today during the DC Fandome online event, giving us our first real look at Kristen Wiig’s villainous Cheetah. Bonus: we get to see a miraculously revived Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) don parachute pants in an attempt to blend with the times, much to the amusement of Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince.

Inspired by the comic book heroine created by William Moulton Marston in the 1940s for DC Comics, Wonder Woman made her big-screen debut in the DCEU with 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, followed by 2017’s Justice League. As we reported previously, the first fell short of box office expectations; the second bombed outright. So when Jenkins took on Wonder Woman’s origin story, she deliberately departed from the grim humorlessness and dark sensibility of those earlier films, bringing a brighter energy and wit to her tale, along with the usual action. That vision paid off: Wonder Woman went on to gross $821 million worldwide and earned critical raves, making it the most successful of the DCEU films thus far.

Since we’re now in the 1980s, Diana is operating in a Cold War scenario, taking on Pedro Pascal’s villainous Maxwell Lord, a shrewd and powerful businessman. Wiig plays Barbara Ann Minerva, a British archaeologist who will eventually evolve into her arch-nemesis Cheetah.

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#dc-universe, #entertainment, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #warner-bros, #wonder-woman-1984

‘Tenet’ will get an international release before hitting U.S. screens in September

Tenet has long been expected to be a bellwether for filmgoers’ readiness to return to theaters. Director Christopher Nolan is a blockbuster machine, and if anyone can get butts in seats amid the worst pandemic in modern memory, it’s probably him. And to be fair, the film really has served as a kind of litmus test — just not kind Warner Bros. was hoping for.

After numerous delays, Tenet has a new release date. Not a final release date, mind. If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, it’s that things can always get worse. For now, however, the mysterious sci-fi thriller is slated to hit theaters in select North American cities on September 3, for the Labor Day Weekend.

Notably, however, the film will receive an international release in 70 territories next month. The list includes Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia and the U.K. While U.S. theater owners have eagerly been waiting the film’s arrival, shutdowns in too many key markets have continued to make a wide release untenable. Among other things, the move can be viewed as a kind of indictment of the United States’ on-going inability to curb the virus’s spread.

And while, as Variety notes, global day-and-date releases aren’t unheard of for these kinds of blockbusters, much of Tenet’s appeal has hinged on the film’s mysterious nature. The trailers thus far released for the film have remained purposefully obtuse. An international release ahead of the the U.S. will almost certainly go a long ways toward removing some of that mystery through piracy and online spoilers.

Other upcoming releases Mulan and A Quiet Place 2 have also seen further delays in recent days.

#entertainment, #tenet, #warner-bros

Warner Bros. pushes back ‘Tenet’ release as COVID-19 cases surge in several states

“Tenet” has been viewed as an important bellwether for Hollywood. After all, director Christopher Nolan has long been a surefire blockbuster machine, courtesy of films like the “Dark Knight” trilogy, “Inception” and “Interstellar.” The mysterious thriller will be a clear test of whether audiences are willing to brave the indoor theater experience, even as COVID-19 remains an on-going concern in much of the world.

This week, Warner Bros. announced that it has decided to push the film to August 12, as several states have seen an increase in cases. This marks the second two-week delay for the film, which was initially set for a July 17 release.

“Warner Bros. is committed to bringing Tenet to audiences in theaters, on the big screen, when exhibitors are ready and public health officials say it’s time,” the company said in a statement offered to the press. “In this moment what we need to be is flexible, and we are not treating this as a traditional movie release. We are choosing to open the movie midweek to allow audiences to discover the film in their own time, and we plan to play longer, over an extended play period far beyond the norm, to develop a very different yet successful release strategy.”

Warner Bros. isn’t the only major studio to get cold feet. Disney is also expected to push the release of “Mulan,” which was set for a week prior to “Tenet.” The news come as states like Florida and Texas slow reopening amid new record infection numbers.  New York state also recently pulled movie theaters from its list of Phase 4 reopenings, alongside other risky establishments like gyms and malls.

All of this presents some important existential questions for theaters, large and small. We’ve reached out to AMC, which plans to open hundreds locations on July 15 (now with mandatory mask requirements, for what it’s worth). Theaters will likely be forced to rely on smaller films, titles that have already debuted via VOD and older movies. Take “Jurassic Park.” The nearly 30-year-old film raked in $517,000 over the weekend, putting it at the top of the North American box office.

We’ve reached out to AMC for comment on how this news will impact its plans to reopen.

#christopher-nolan, #covid-19, #entertainment, #movies, #tenet, #warner-bros

With theaters still closed, Warner Bros. drops latest Tenet trailer in Fortnite

John David Washington and Robert Pattinson star in Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming new film, Tenet.

With cinemas shut down all over the world for months, all eyes have turned to July, when two major studio releases are set to debut: Disney’s Mulan (bumped from its original March release), and Director Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated sci-fi thriller, Tenet. It looks like Warner Bros. is boldly sticking with the latter film’s planned July 17 release date, despite all the pandemic-fueled uncertainty. The studio just dropped a new trailer, which made its debut in an unusual medium: playing every top of the hour in the popular battle royale game Fortnite

We know very little about the film, not even the usual carefully crafted official premise, although the film’s title is a palindrome, meaning it reads the same backward and forward—a subtle clue. Nolan has kept any additional details (including character names) tightly under wraps. It stars John David Washington (Ballers, BlacKkKlansman) and Robert Pattinson (Twilight franchise, The Lighthouse). The film also features Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express), Michael Caine (Inception, Interstellar), Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter films), Himesh Patel (Yesterday), Elizabeth Debicki (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), Martin Donovan (Ant-Man), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-ass), and Indian film stars Dimple Kapadia and Denzil Smith.

The first trailer dropped last December. As I wrote at the time, “Fresh off his Oscar-nominated World War II drama, Dunkirk, Nolan seems to be returning to his high-concept sci-fi roots with Tenet.” That trailer opened with a shot of two men rappelling up a building, in seeming defiance of the laws of physics. “We all believe we’d run into the burning building,” a voiceover tells us. “But until we feel that heat, we can never know.”

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#christopher-nolan, #entertainment, #film, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #trailers, #warner-bros

Streaming service Hooq shuts down, ends partnerships with Disney’s Hotstar, Grab and others

Hooq, a five-year-old on-demand video streaming service that aimed to become “Netflix for Southeast Asia,” has shut down weeks after filing for liquidation and terminated its partnerships with Disney’s Hotstar, ride-hailing giant Grab, and Indonesia’s VideoMax.

Hooq Digital, a joint venture among Singapore telecom group Singtel (majority owner), Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros Entertainment, discontinued the service on Thursday. It had amassed over 80 million subscribers in nearly half of the dozen markets in Asia.

“For the past 5 years, we gave you unbelievable thrills, heartrending drama, roaring laughs, awesome action, and more. Our goal was to bring you the best entertainment from here to Hollywood. Our hearts are full of gratitude for all of you who shared the journey with us,” it says on its website.

Hooq publicly disclosed that it had raised about $95 million, but the sum was likely higher. News outlet The Ken analyzed the regulatory filings last month to report that Hooq had raised $127.2 million, and its losses in the financial year 2019 had ballooned to $220, suggesting that it had received more capital.

The streaming service said last month that it could not receive new funds from new or existing investors.

Homepage of Hooq

The service counted India, where it entered into a partnership with Disney’s Hotstar in 2018 and telecom operators Airtel and Vodafone, as its biggest market. The company also maintained a partnership with ride-hailing giant Grab to supply content in its cab, and VideoMAX in Indonesia.

Hooq brought dozens of D.C. universe titles including “Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Wonder Woman” and other popular TV series such as “The Big Bang Theory” to its partners. In India, users began noticing last week that those titles were disappearing from Hotstar.

A spokesperson of Hooq told TechCrunch today that its tie-ups with all its partners including Hotstar have closed. A Hotstar spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Mobile operator Singtel first unveiled Hooq’s liquidation in an exchange filing last month. The Ken reported that the filing left hundreds of employees at Hooq stunned who thought the firm was doing fine financially. Nearly every employee at Hooq has been let go, with select few offered a job at Singtel, according to The Ken.

In an interview with Slator earlier this year, Yvan Hennecart, Head of Localization at HOOQ, said that the company was working to expand its catalog with local content and add 100 original titles in 2020.

“Our focus is mostly on localization of entertainment content; whether it is subtitling or dubbing, we are constantly looking to bring more content to our viewers faster. My role also expands to localization of our platform and any type of collateral information that helps create a unique experience for our users,” he told the outlet.

#airtel, #apps, #asia, #disney, #entertainment, #grab, #hooq, #hotstar, #media, #mobile, #netflix, #singtel, #southeast-asia, #vodafone, #warner-bros