In this pandemic year, in which theaters were closed for months and open at limited capacity after that, movie studios have had to come up with creative ways to release their planned blockbuster films. Some have been delayed to 2021. Others have been sold off to streaming services, while others have opened on various video on demand schemes. One, “Tenet,” opened exclusively in theaters, while another, “Mulan,” was released as a $30 video on demand add-on to Disney+.
One major blockbuster remained on the release schedule for 2020: “Wonder Woman 1984,” which until Wednesday was set for a Christmas Day theatrical release. The sequel to the hit “Wonder Woman” movie, starring Gal Gadot, had originally been scheduled to come out in the summer.
On Wednesday, AT&T and Warner Media announced another creative releasing scheme for the movie: It will be released, both in theaters that are open and on HBO Max, on December 25. Meanwhile, it will also come out in international markets—where fewer restrictions are in place—beginning December 16.
Furthermore, the film will only be available on HBO Max for a month. And unlike “Mulan” with Disney, “Wonder Woman 1984” will be available “at no additional cost to subscribers.”
“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,” Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures, said in the announcement.
“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.”
The one month limit for the HBO Max would seem to open the door for “Wonder Woman” to have a run in theaters at some point in 2021 once there has been widespread vaccination.
The director of movie, Patty Jenkins, commented on Twitter about the release strategy.
“THE TIME HAS COME,” Jenkins wrote. “At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.” Jenkins went on to encourage fans to watch the movie in theaters, “where it has been made safe to do so.”
The big question is whether AT&T will have reached a deal with Roku to carry HBO Max by the time “Wonder Woman” arrives. Roku did recently reach such an agreement with Amazon to put the streaming service on its the Fire platform.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.