After weeks of rumours and speculation, Warner Brothers has finally announced that Wonder Woman 1984 will not be delayed to 2021 as many expected. Instead, the movie will be debuting in theatres on Christmas Day as originally planned but it will also be available on their streaming service HBO Max at the same time. This will not be a premium VOD release that requires an additional fee like Mulan on Disney+, but the catch is that it will only be available on HBO Max for one month. They have not announced what will happen after that but it seems likely to shift to premium VOD on other digital outlets. Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, had this to say about the announcement:
“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… 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.”
Given that Wonder Woman 1984 was expected to be one of the biggest movies of the year, this is a pretty huge announcement that could have major implications for the future of the industry. Theatre chains would normally refuse to show movies that are premiering digitally on the same day, but in this case they may not have a choice. Warner Brothers is giving them a lifeline by opting to leave the movie in theaters when virtually every other major theatrical release has moved to 2021. Outside the U.S. where HBO Max is not available, Wonder Woman 1984 is moving up its theatrical release one week earlier to Dec. 16th. Do you think this is an inspired compromise or is it a dangerous decision for such a major theatrical release?