Over the past few weeks, with Wonder Woman 1984 being the last blockbuster hoping to stay on the box office listings for the 2020 holiday season, the industry has wondered whether WarnerMedia will keep the film in theaters (possibly delaying its release until 2021) or opt for one Opting would be to relocate it to its upstart streaming service, HBO Max.
The answer is, surprisingly, both: Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously on December 25, the company announced today. The film will be available on HBO Max in the US for one month at no additional cost to subscribers.
With its decision, WarnerMedia hopes to give the traveling theater exhibitors a much-needed financial boost during the pandemic – as most big films have either been postponed to 2021 or switched to streaming services – while pushing its own streaming platform. HBO max.
"As we navigate these unprecedented times, we have had to innovate to grow our business while continuing to serve our fans excellently," said Ann Sarnoff, chairman and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, in a statement. “This is an amazing movie that really comes to life on the big screen. Working with our partners in the exhibition community, we will be bringing this option to consumers in the United States where theaters are open. We are aware that many consumers will no longer be able to return to the cinema due to the pandemic. That's why we'd also like to give them the opportunity to watch Wonder Woman 1984 through our HBO Max platform. "
Wonder Woman 1984 is the sequel to Wonder Woman from 2017, which grossed $ 822 million internationally. Warner Bros. had been considering gross global profits of $ 1 billion for the sequel, but after delaying the original release several times in June 2020 due to the pandemic, opted for this simultaneous release experiment.
This makes Wonder Woman 1984 the best-known film to date that makes its debut on a streaming platform due to Covid-19.
In September, Disney decided to bypass cinemas in the US and make its live-action feature film Mulan available to Disney + subscribers, who paid an additional $ 30 to view the film through Premier Access.
Other large budget films slated for first theatrical release were streamed directly to a streaming platform. The most recent well-known examples include the original filmed Broadway production by Hamilton. This production debuted on Disney + in July, more than a year before its planned release in 2021. Last month, The Witches premiered on HBO Max with Anne Hathaway.
Warner Bros., which made Wonder Woman in 1984, would not repeat its mistake in releasing Tenet in the US and around the world in September at a lukewarm box office. "I can't say we said goodbye to the Tenet experience thinking it was a home run," John Stankey, CEO of WarnerMedia's parent company, AT&T, told investors last month.
The decision is made because media companies are still struggling to postpone their theatrical releases or switch to a streaming service.
During last week's earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said Disney was "very pleased" with Mulan's results, but the company hadn't released any figures. "We saw enough very positive results before this controversy started that we have something here in terms of Premier Access strategy," said Chapek.
However, Disney decided to release its next Pixar film, Soul, on Disney + – with no Premier Access surcharge – instead of theaters.
Wonder Woman 1984 was supposed to significantly improve HBO Max's subscriber base.