Disney Plus may have had soul, but HBO Max had the eyeballs.
Despite previous reports that Pixar’s Soul was the streaming winner during the holiday break, the official Nielsen ratings system recently updated their Christmas vacation numbers to reveal that it was Wonder Woman 1984 that lassoed the most viewers.
And by a significant margin.
DC’s superhero sequel clocked in 2.3 billion minutes on HBO Max, about 35% more than Soul‘s 1.6 billion minutes on Disney Plus. With a 151-minute run time, WW84 ended with an average 14.9 million views from Christmas to New Year’s.
Making the margin even more impressive: not only does Disney Plus have a much higher subscriber total than HBO Max, but WW84 was also the #1 movie at the theatrical box office during that same frame, therefore muting its maximum streaming potential. Soul, however, remained an exclusive engagement on Disney Plus. Even so, the WW84 boost was driven by HBO Max roughly doubling its subscriber base.
With streamer and theatrical combined, Wonder Woman 1984 was easily the #1 champ of the 2020 holiday season.
Both films also outpaced Bridgerton, Netflix’s newly crowned most-watched original series of all-time. It ranked 4th during the holidays, with The Office squeezing in at #3 during its second-to-last week on Netflix before moving to competing streamer Peacock.
With that double-whammy of streaming and theatrical victories, Warner Media may be starting to feel justified right now about their decision to launch all of their 2021 WB film titles simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, a controversial plan that was met with a lot of backlash, both from major theater chains and their own A-list filmmmakers.
Further boosting the optimism of that business model: The Little Things, a new dark crime thriller starring Oscar-winners Denzel Washington, Jared Leto, and Rami Malek, duplicated WW84‘s feat of opening #1 at the box office while debuting same day on HBO Max. It pulled in $4.8 million from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31 in North American movie theaters, proving to be one of the better weekend showings during the pandemic.
Nielsen numbers have yet to be reported for The Little Things, but HBO Max did announce that the movie shot to #1 within its own streaming catalogue.
In addition, having duplicated a weekend box office win while also premiering via streaming has to be an encouraging sign for Warner Media.
Granted, that strategy may not be a windfall money-maker. It may not even make the individual films profitable. But when it comes to maintaining a presence in the marketplace while also building a premiere streaming platform, this approach may be as good as any to weather the still-unpredictable future of COVID for 2021.