UPDATE: HBO Max has made the news official with a trailer.
In what may be a harbinger of things to come, the fate of Wonder Woman 1984 has been decided — it will be in theaters and on HBO Max this Christmas.
Variety reports the decision was made by Warner Bros. Pictures in light of increasing COVID-19 infection numbers across the country. The rising tide of the pandemic has left many states and municipalities declaring business curfews and returning to a posture unseen since last Spring. If infection rates continue to increase, it is only a matter of time before the theaters open in the US will once again shut down. Also, it should be said, many moviegoers are still hesitant to go to indoor theaters due to the novel coronavirus.
The film will also debut on December 16th in international markets where HBO Max is unavailable.
In a subsequent statement, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said, “We see an opportunity to do something firmly focused on the fans: give them the power to choose between going to their local cinema or opening on HBO Max. Super-fans will likely choose both. This incredible movie will be available both ways on the exact same day. If you are fortunate to live in a place where theaters are open, we believe we are offering a great option given the Cinema Safe protocols our partners have put in place. With this, exhibitors are offering a movie-going experience with social distancing, masks, cleaning and ventilation protocols. On the other hand, if you and your family prefer to stay in and make your own popcorn this holiday, we want to share the experience of Wonder Woman 1984 with you the exact same day on HBO Max. It’s your decision to make.”
The choice to presumably make the film available to all Max subscribers also suggests Warner’s corporate parent, AT&T, is testing the waters for an all-streaming future. As Variety reports, the first Wonder Woman film made over $800 million at the global box office. Can 1984 replicate that sort of business in the obscure world of steaming platforms without an added ticket price to HBO Max’s subscriber fee? The metric here, one supposes, is the potential boost in subscribers for the service, which analysts now say bungled its launch last May. In fact, Kilar’s statement appears to give us one number the company is looking to match: the 4 million people who saw the first film on its opening day.
Additionally, the film will be the first of the delayed 2020 summer tentpoles to try the switch to a streaming platform without an added premium price. If successful, it may open the door to films like Black Widow and No Time To Die to find a berth in streaming instead of another potential delay. At the same time, as both of those films have been delayed a full year to Spring of 2021, it is possible theaters will be operating in a safer manner.
Wonder Woman 1984, meanwhile, has been delayed many times itself, moving from an original planned November 2019 release to June 5th, 2020, then to August 14th when it became clear the earlier summer release was not viable. Then it moved again to December 25th when the outlook for theaters looked good. But as other films like No Time To Die moved to 2021, 1984 stood alone. Gal Gadot stars as Diana. Still in exile from her native lands after 70 years, her path leads to a conflict with Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and a friendship with Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) … a friendship destined to leave Diana with a mortal enemy.
Wonder Woman 1984 comes to theaters and HBO Max on December 25th.