‘Wonder Woman 1984’ will not skip cinemas or move to 2021, but it is altering course with a digital release on streaming platform, HBO Max.
The last big blockbuster holdout of 2020 is still opening in US cinemas on Christmas Day but it will also be made available to HBO Max subscribers free of charge for its first month, according to Warner Bros.
Internationally, where HBO Max is not available, the film will premiere in cinemas one week earlier, on Dec. 16.
After the first month for free on HBO Max, ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ will play in theaters for an additional few weeks before being made available for rental on demand.
It is an unprecedented strategy for a film of its size, but a sign of the extraordinary measures that many Hollywood studios have had to resort to in the Covid-19 era.
“As we navigate these unprecedented times, we’ve had to be innovative in keeping our businesses moving forward while continuing to super-serve our fans,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures.
“This is an amazing film that really comes to life on the big screen and, working with our partners in the exhibition community, we will provide that option to consumers in the U.S. where theaters are open. We realize that a lot of consumers can’t go back to the movies due to the pandemic, so we also want to give them the option to see Wonder Woman 1984 via our HBO Max platform.”
Most major films that had been set for 2020 have either delayed theatrical releases until 2021 or sent them to streaming platforms for a premium rental price, as the Walt Disney Co. did with ‘Mulan.’
Audiences have not been going back to the theaters in significant numbers since they began to reopen across the country in late August.
Warner Bros. tested the waters early with Christopher Nolan’s ‘Tenet,’ which was the first big movie to open in theaters after six months of being closed, but it didn’t do pre-pandemic numbers in the US, where theaters were still closed in major markets like Los Angeles and New York.
Most studios decided at that point to push their biggest films, from the James Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ to ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Black Widow,’ to next year. Warner Bros. also sent its next big film, ‘The Witches’ straight to HBO Max, which parent company Warner Media launched earlier this year.
‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is a major tentpole for Warner Bros. The first film made over $821 million globally in 2017 and this sequel which brings back director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot has been hotly anticipated.