Simultaneous Wonder Woman 1984 cinemas HBOMax premiere underlines the bet of The Hollywood 'majors' for digital exploitation in times of pandemic: Warner Media has made a decision regarding Wonder Woman 1984, thus clearing the unknowns that were planned about the last major blockbuster left on the 2020 calendar. On December 25, it will be released in theaters in the United States. Within that territory, in addition, the film can be seen on HBOMax, the company's direct-to-consumer platform, without any surcharge and for one month. In the rest of the world, where the service is not yet operating, the film will be able to be seen only in theaters. It will be released, of course, a week earlier, on December 16.

The announcement caught everyone by surprise, as it was made public accidentally, with the release of the latest trailer. The film closed with a sign that read “In theaters & in HBOMax”. Although the trailer was quickly removed, both director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot herself confirmed it from their social media accounts (encouraging, of course, to see it in theaters).

Soon after came Warner's official statement, in a brief and effusive note signed by the company'S CEO, Jason Kilar.

There has been much debate about the decision that the company would finally make, which had before it three possible lines of action: to delay to 2021 (like the vast majority), to release only in cinemas on the appointed day or to make a kind of day and date premiere that would combine the theaters and its subscription service. The direct-to-platform premiere leaping into theaters, with a domestic platform and a production whose first installment had grossed more than 800 million worldwide, did not seem too likely. And the postponement, although logical, meant incurring an extra marketing effort for a title whose campaign started in 2019. Not to mention the general uncertainty and competition with which he was going to find himself in the first half of next year.

Warner seems to have learned from Tenet's experience. With DC's crown jewel they couldn't afford to make mistakes. They have opted for a commercial operation with several lines of action. On the one hand, the world box office card is played to a week. With the film released on platform, the pirate copy of impeccable digital quality will not take long to reach the sites of torrents. With Mulan's history of illegal downloads, piracy will in all likelihood destroy part of the international trade route once you're on HBOMax. On the other hand, they seek to compensate for the restrictions that COVID-19 has imposed on the North American exhibition circuits, offering a possibility of access where the rooms do not reach.

Simultaneous Wonder Woman 1984 cinemas HBOMax premiere

Will HBOMax be able to cover what will no longer be collected in theatrical in the face of the limitations that the sector currently has? Although it is the platform with the highest fee on the market (14.99 mes per month) it is difficult to estimate it. And in all likelihood we will never know, given how unlikely platforms are to offer data from their digital operations. In his official statement, Jason Kilar stated that measuring the success of Wonder Woman 1984 will have to be done in a completely different way because, as he himself stated paraphrasing The Wizard Of Oz,"we are no longer in Kansas".

The executive makes it clear that the scale for success in theaters will be different from the one used with Tenet (the tour at the box office). The Battle of Wonder Woman will be fought over the Christmas holidays, and both the grossing in theaters and the performance they have through their subscription platform will be taken into account. In the words of Kilar himself, "the figures of families and fans who launch to HBOMax will be valued, since we anticipate that a part of these fans will decide to enjoy Wonder Woman 1984 again and again from the opening day".

With the shadow of the churn looming over their heads, having a blockbuster premiere within a click of a click to generate highs and intensify the overall use of the platform could not come at a better time. Although the overall number of HBOMax customers has exceeded all expectations (28.7 million customers), only 30% of them are direct and individual. Most come from bundled packages that add the new service (such as Comcast, DirectTV or Hulu). And what's worse: 70% are people who were upgraded for free as HBO customers, but have not yet registered on the new platform. That is, they are people who have the service at their fingertips but have not yet used it (and, therefore, are at risk of cancellation).

That just a few days before HBOMax had announced the agreement to bring the application of the app to Amazon Fire TV (which greatly expands the access of households) also explains the move. Warner needs HBOMax to really resonate in the minds of its customers (real and potential), and to do it fast. Especially because, in the face of an international expansion that does not finish arriving, its position in the US weakens month by month in an arena with many competitors.

For a film of this magnitude the decision is unprecedented, although the extraordinary circumstances that have driven it do not seem to be the prelude to a definitive framework of action. Trusting that a new standard marketing procedure with exclusivity windows will be set up in the future (like the one that has guided film exploitation for decades) seems increasingly unlikely. In the US cinemas have accepted the proposal with resignation. They are aware that extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures.

But no doubt that three of the major Hollywood majors have made decisions that do not prioritize the rooms (regardless of their motivations) sends a powerful message. On the one hand, the increasingly weakened position of cinemas in the face of an industry that is raising its level of BET towards digital exploitation. On the other hand, that as new practices are established at the stroke of great premieres it will be increasingly difficult to restore the window to the pre-pandemic situation.

Simultaneous Wonder Woman 1984 cinemas HBOMax premiere

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The video game business grows by 20% worldwide in the year of the coronavirus: Nintendo, new consoles, streaming services and eSports, the 'culprits'

The coronavirus crisis has affected all economic sectors but, if there is one that has withstood the storm and has achieved spectacular figures —apart, of course, from online commerce—, it has been that of video games.

It is an industry that has accumulated years of growth and that, in 2019, placed its turnover at 1.479 million euros, as evidenced by the White Paper of the Spanish video game development of 2019.

The most relevant thing is that this year, marked by the pandemic, the business has still gone to more. In the absence of knowing the figures in Spain —one of the 10 major markets in the industry—, it is estimated that, globally, the video game sector will generate revenues of between 130,000 and 150,000 million euros, 20% above 2019, according to Voz Populi, which has echoed a report by the consultancy Newzoo.

The culprits of this situation have been several.

'Animal Crossing New Horizons': Nintendo's hit

Animal Crossing New Horizons, one of the most important Nintendo exclusives of 2020 and from which its latest update has already been released, has reaped great success. Its sales became known last August: its more than 22,4 million games sold place it as one of the favorites of the year, which has allowed the Japanese company to triple its profits.

The data speak for themselves: until September, Nintendo recorded an attributed Net Profit of 1,734 million dollars (1,461 million euros at the current exchange rate), a figure that implies multiplying by 3,5 the net profits that it recorded in the same period of the previous year.

New consoles: from PS5 to Xbox Series X / S

The appearance of new consoles of the new generation is another decisive factor. Both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S have broken molds getting that there is no reservation and that many users have to wait until December to receive the one they have bought or even to be able to get one.

One of the fundamental points, without a doubt, has been the starting price of both consoles. If we compare them with a high-end computer, both PS5 and Xbox Series X are winning in comparison.

It is also true that both companies have cast the rest on two consoles that mark a before and after in their functionalities, which has encouraged society to make the leap to the new generation

It is true that these data cannot yet be evaluated, since there are still no figures, but it is clear that they have given the sector an extra boost.

The business is expanded with Google, Amazon or Microsoft

This huge growth of the video game business has also been supported by the emergence of new business models that give users more possibilities to access video games. Here we have examples such as Google Stadia, Amazon's recent jump to streaming video games with Luna or Microsoft's bet - undoubtedly the technological one that is most in shape-with Xbox Game Pass and its project xCloud, which already has more than 15 million subscribers worldwide.

Entering into matter, it is striking that, as far as device is concerned, almost half of the turnover comes from smartphones, tablets and watches and intelligent reason to explain this phenomenon is the easy access to these devices, as well as the difference in costs compared to the development of video games more complex.

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