Audiences will be able to see “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day after all. After much speculation, Warner Bros. has announced that the superhero sequel will debut on the HBO Max streaming service on December 25, the same day it opens in theaters in the United States.
Internationally, where HBO Max isn’t available, “Wonder Woman 1984” premieres in theaters a week earlier on December 16. The film will be shown on HBO Max for one month at no additional cost to subscribers.
“As we navigate these unprecedented times, we have had to be innovative to move our business forward while continuing to serve our fans at the highest level,” said Ann Sarnoff, President and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures. “It’s an incredible film that really comes to life on the big screen and, working with our partners in the exhibit community, we’ll be bringing this option to consumers in the United States, where theaters are open. We realize that many consumers cannot return to theaters due to the pandemic, so we also want to give them the option to see Wonder Woman 1984 through our HBO Max platform. “
The decision to forgo a traditional theatrical release is surprising as “Wonder Woman 1984” was set to be one of the biggest films of 2020 and had the potential to surpass $ 1 billion in ticket sales. The $ 200 million budgeted film was originally slated to hit theaters last summer. However, this has been delayed time and time again amid the coronavirus crisis. Many were skeptical that “Wonder Woman 1984” would keep its release date on Christmas Day since 50% of US theaters are closed and people are still hesitant to see a movie in theaters. Industry experts speculated that like “Black Widow,” “Fast & Furious 9,” “No Time to Die” and other potential blockbusters, “Wonder Woman 1984” would be postponed to 2021.
However, the switch to digital is not completely unexpected. Earlier in the pandemic, Warner Bros. chose to send titles such as “Scoob” to premium video on demand and “The Witches” to HBO Max. While not ideal for theater owners, “Wonder Woman” ‘s hybrid release plan gives struggling multiplexes a lifeline. Normally, the big movie chains would refuse to present a big movie that debuts simultaneously in theaters and at home. In fact, Universal Pictures received the most criticism after the studio decided to launch “Trolls World Tour” on digital rental services in April, when most theaters were closed due to the pandemic. But months after the onset of a global health crisis with no end in sight, many theater operators are struggling to make ends meet – and they desperately need a new product to show off.
WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar highlighted the company’s commitment to the exhibition community. Theater operators were especially grateful to Warner Bros. during the pandemic because the studio made a bold bet this summer to open Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” in theaters despite huge headwinds at the box office.
“We believe in cinemas because hundreds of millions of fans around the world enjoy going to the movies,” Kilar said in a press release. “And as long as fans are looking for the theatrical experience, we’ll be there to bring them some great movies in partnership with the exhibitors.
Making her “Wonder Woman 1984” debut on HBO Max instead of postponing the film until next year means forgoing substantial box office returns. But the hope is that the offer of a tent pole will attract subscribers to HBO Max, which has struggled to compete with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus. HBO Max costs $ 15 per month.
“Wonder Woman” was a huge critical and commercial success in 2017, grossing over $ 800 million at the global box office. As one of the few comic book movies to feature a female superhero, it has also become a cultural touchstone and solidified as one of the Warner Bros. ” most important properties.
“We appreciate the patience of the audience, and given the great anticipation around ‘Wonder Woman 1984’, we are grateful that we can make this hugely entertaining film widely available during these trying times,” said Toby Emmerich, President of Warner Bros. Pictures Group.
The sequel picks up with Gal Gadot’s Amazon warrior during the Cold War as she battles two formidable foes – Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) – while reuniting with her past love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The cast also includes Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen.
Patty Jenkins, who directed “Wonder Woman” and beyond, was bittersweet when she took to the news on social media.
“The time has come”, she written on twitter. “At some point you have to choose to share all the love and joy you have to give, above all else. We love our movie like we love our fans, so we really hope our movie brings you some joy and a break this holiday season. “
She urged fans to seek out the movie where they feel is the safest.
“Watch it in theaters, where it’s secure to do it (find out which major working theaters have done to do it!) And available in the security of your home on HBO Max where it’s not,” says -she. “Happy Holidays to all. We hope you enjoy our movie as much as we enjoyed doing it.
In her statement, Kilar noted that more than four million people in the United States saw “Wonder Woman” in theaters on opening day.
“Is there a possibility that this could happen again this Christmas with Wonder Woman 1984 between theaters and HBO Max?” He asked. “We’re excited to find out and are doing everything in our power to bring the power of choice to fans.”
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