When you have an unanswerable choice, just do both.
That seems to be the solution for Wonder Woman 1984, which will now open on Christmas Day simultaneously in movie theaters (both in the U.S. and worldwide) and on streamer HBO Max.
The DCEU sequel will actually open nearly 10 days earlier internationally on Dec. 16, exclusively in theaters (given that HBO Max has yet to become a global entity like Netflix and Disney Plus). For U.S. HBO Max subscribers, WW84 will be available for a month at no additional cost.
It’s another example of uncharted territory during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Tenet went theatrical. Mulan and Soul went straight to Disney Plus streaming. Now, Wonder Woman 1984 is going to test the possibilities of doing theatrical and streaming at the same time.
The other option for distributor Warner Bros. was to delay WW84 until Summer for an exclusive theatrical run. That would’ve given them the most likely path to the billion dollar global box office haul they were hoping for.
Instead, it appears that studio believes it’s better for them to release as scheduled on Christmas, if even at a loss, where they can gauge where theatrical tentpole audience sizes may be (especially during a vacation) while also offering a boost to HBO Max, the streamer that’s still lagging behind Netflix and Disney Plus in terms of subscribers.
The big question is, though is this: which theaters will show it and which ones won’t? AMC and Cinemark, two of the nations biggest multiplex chains, have made it standard policy to not screen films that debut simultaneously on streaming or VOD platforms. They will only book streaming titles that allow an initial exclusive theatrical window.
But that may change.
Wonder Woman 1984 is too big of a tempting title to pass up. It’s exactly what movie theaters have been begging for. Even with the HBO Max option, it’ll likely be too vital to pass up. It may even motivate Regal (the nation’s second biggest chain) to reopen.
It’s another interesting Hollywood experiment, and the second big risk from Warners (they also released Tenet). Wonder Woman, I’m really hoping that bringing people back to theaters is one of the wonders you can do.