All of the major blockbusters intended for theatrical release this year have evacuated their release dates and headed for 2021, except for one. Free Guy and Death on the Nile were the last big movies shifted to next year, and now all eyes are Warner Bros. to see what they’ll do with Wonder Woman 1984, currently slated to be released in theaters on Christmas Day. But if a new report is accurate, the studio is considering releasing the sequel on HBO Max shortly after its theatrical debut. Or even on the same day.
Bloomberg was the first to report that Warner Bros. is currently considering a potential release of Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max after it’s in theaters for one or two weeks. However, Deadline followed with more information that says the studio may be leaning towards releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max day-and-date with the film’s theatrical release on Christmas Day. That’s the exactly opposite of what studio insiders were saying back at the beginning of November. So what’s going on here?
Well, in the 11 days since studio insiders were so adamant that Wonder Woman 1984 wouldn’t have a shortened theatrical window, the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States has increased every day, setting new single-day records for new cases every single day, and that includes today. In response, cities have been tightening restrictions, and some states are considering lockdown procedures again as we head into the holiday season, which also happens to be regular flu season. That means more movie theaters could be closing, or at the very least, audiences are going to be even less likely to take a risk on a trip to theaters.
At this point, movie theaters are going to be in a dire situation whether Wonder Woman 1984 gets released in theaters with a standard theatrical window or a shortened one. They’re just not going to get anywhere near the box office money they would in a normal situation due to the coronavirus pandemic. That situation gets even worse if Wonder Woman 1984 shifts to sometime next year instead, another scenario that the studio is considering with an eye on June 4, 2021 as a potential new release date. So given the choice between a theatrical released with a shortened theatrical window or a theatrical release delayed to next year, the former might be the better option that helps keep movie theaters afloat.
But what about the simultaneous release on HBO Max on Christmas Day? Well, Bloomberg implies that movie theaters may be willing to take what they can get at this point. They might not be happy about it, but it seems that they’re much more understanding about the extenuating circumstances surrounding the situation. That may be because Warner Bros. is reportedly considering making some kind of payment to theater owners for their cooperation during these dire times.
Another reason Warner Bros. is considering giving Wonder Woman 1984 a day-and-date release on HBO Max at the same time it hits theaters is to help benefit the streaming service itself. Deadline adds that the top executives at AT&T, who now own WarnerMedia, Warner Bros. Pictures, and HBO Max, simply don’t have a good grasp on the theatrical business, and they’re putting the pressure on Warner Media executives to do something big to draw more subscribers to the service, and the exclusive streaming release of Wonder Woman 1984 would certainly do that.
None of these options are ideal for the studio or movie theaters. A theatrical release for Wonder Woman 1984 won’t bring in nearly as much box office money for the studio or theaters as a full-on theatrical release would in ideal circumstances. A day-and-date release would may result in even less box office money, though it would raise the intake of HBO Max through new subscriptions. And a delayed released would hurt theaters. Either way, the studio and movie theaters are going to take a hit in some capacity. It’s just a matter of figuring out what the best path is for the film, and that’s exactly what Warner Bros. Pictures is doing now.
Honestly, the best option, at least for the studio, is to hold off until there’s a coronavirus vaccine next year so people can see this movie safely in theaters, making it more likely that the movie can reach around a billion dollars at the box office. People will be eager to return to theaters after all this nonsense.
We’ll let you know as soon as Warner Bros. Pictures makes up their mind.
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