In one of the least shocking reveals of 2020, Warner Brothers has finally pulled the plug on it’s theatrical released and announced that it will be premiering on Christmas day simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.
As CNN reports:
“The film will be released simultaneously in theaters and on the streaming service in the United States on December 25. It will debut in international markets on December 16.The film will be available for a month on HBO Max in the United States at no additional cost to subscribers. Once “Wonder Woman 1984″ leaves the service, it will continue to play in theaters. After that, the film will become available via video on demand, digital rental and for purchase.”CNN, Thursday, November 19, 2020
Hollywood continues to be terrified of opening films in the midst of the pandemic. The largest post-pandemic release thus far was Christopher Nolan’s Tenet which opened to a $54 million dollar domestic release and a $293 million dollar domestic release on a budget of $200 million dollars. The film will likely barely break even for Warner Brothers and damage Nolan’s working relationship with the studio.
Hollywood’s best solution thus far in 2020 has been to cut losses by releasing titles on VOD to make up for lost profits. This strategy has proved somewhat successful so far. Trolls World Tour, Bloodshot and Bill and Ted Face the Music received simultaneous Video-On-Demand and theatrical releases this year to help recover their budgets.
This however is a massive disadvantage for Warner Brothers. Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t a small animated film or a mid-tier comedy film with a smaller budget. The film’s reported budget is likely higher than $200 million dollars. The studio expected upwards of $600 million in gross from ticket sales alone given that it was one of 2020’s most anticipated sequels.
The first Wonder Woman movie grossed more than $800 million dollars and WB certainly wanted another profitable venture of that size.
Even if the film makes a considerable haul being released simultaneously on HBO Max, it’s still going to be a loss for Warner Brothers. When “sure things” bomb at the box office, that’s when heads start rolling. It’s not unlikely that the promised third film with Patty Jenkins returning to direct could be canceled before it ever gets off the ground.
While it’s impossible to gauge just what this will mean for the film industry, it’s likely the future of the film industry is going to look a lot more like The Mandalorian or the Snyder Cut of Justice League than what films like Wonder Woman look like. Any production going forward will need to be a low budget film or a series that can be sold to streaming services for a profit.
For now, fans of Wonder Woman can at least rejoice in the fact that they’ll finally be given an avenue to see their long awaited sequel after years of delays!