It finally happened. After months of delays due to covid-19, Warner Bros. has decided to release its upcoming blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 on its HBO Max streaming service the same day it hits theatres in the U.S., December 25.
The sequel to the 2017 hit was originally supposed to release in June. Since then, it has shifted release dates multiple times, with director Patty Jenkins continually saying she wanted fans to experience the movie in theatres, as intended. However, as other studios moved most of their 2020 releases into later months and into next year, Wonder Woman 1984 was the last remaining major film on the schedule. What has long been a film many thought could save the theatrical experience may now have the opposite effect. It’ll play in whatever theatres it can, but many theatres that had re-opened have already begun to close again. Here’s Jenkins’ statement.
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) November 18, 2020
According to the press release, the film will debut in theatres internationally on December 16 and may remain on HBO Max for only a month.
Earlier this year, Warner Bros. tried to salvage the theatrical experience with the release of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. However, box office returns — at least in the United States — were well below most expectations and other studios took notice. In recent days, Nolan himself was quoted saying those results probably marked a change in Hollywood’s approach to film distribution. This move is more proof of that.
On the other hand, Warner Bros. is almost assuredly going to see a boost in subscribers to HBO Max. A new Wonder Woman movie, which would have easily grossed a billion dollars if released in theatres, will bring plenty of new people in. If they stay, and what else does the company might roll out to keep them, is a whole other question.
And while this is a very complicated situation that we’ll be arguing about for weeks, months, if not years, the important immediate result is this: We all get a chance to see Wonder Woman 1984, safely, this holiday season. And that is about a nice a gift as we can expect in this awful year.
Update 11/18/2020, 7:45 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional information on the release.
Editor's Note: Plans for Wonder Woman 1984 are yet to be confirmed in Australia. Like other movies that have aired on HBO Max in the U.S., it's likely Australia will simply get a cinema release for Wonder Woman 1984. If you have a VPN, you may be able to access the HBO Max version of the film.