The coronavirus pandemic has taken a lot from the entertainment world in 2020. Black Widow, Dune, The Eternals, James Bond, Fast & Furious — all are delayed into 2021 and beyond. Warner Bros. Pictures released Tenet in theaters, and it sank like a stone; Disney moved Mulan to Disney+ as a "Premier" tier release but has not tried that approach again. With the holidays approaching and the virus still not under control, it seemed Wonder Woman 1984, which had previously been rescheduled for Christmas day, was also doomed. But a last-minute reprieve has been granted. So, here’s how to watch Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day 2020.
The story on the big screen for 2020 is theatres shutting down because of the pandemic. But on the small screen, it’s a different world. Even before shutdowns became the watchword of the day, this year was always about the sudden proliferation of streaming services. Netflix’s success inspired other production companies to create direct-to-consumer pipelines. The Walt Disney Company launched Disney+, NBCUniversal launched Peacock, ViacomCBS is readying the arrival of Paramount+.
Meanwhile, WarnerMedia, the parent company of both HBO and Warner Bros. Pictures, launched HBO Max. With the reality that few if any consumers will go to the theater on Christmas Day, Warner has decided that it will do a dual launch for Wonder Woman 1984. The film will release simultaneously on the big screen where theaters are open and on HBO Max so that those who would rather stay home can still see the movie.
To say this is a big deal for streaming is an understatement. So far, most production companies have refused to move expected blockbuster hits to small screen launches. Despite the success of Trolls 2 back in April on PVOD, the idea of sacrificing what should be a near billion-dollar return worldwide for the hope of a few million subscribers has not been viewed as worth the trade-off. For example, Netflix reportedly offered Columbia Pictures on the order of $300m to stream No Time To Die, the new James Bond film. (That’s about what the film was expected to make domestically at the U.S. box office.) But executives said no, seeing that as losing money. (Worldwide, No Time To Die would probably make three times that.)
So Warner didn’t make this decision lightly. Nor does it plan to leave Wonder Woman 1984 on the service ever after. Instead, fans only have a month to check out Diana’s 1980s era exploits before the film exits the service again. After Jan. 25, it will only be in theaters or as a PVOD rental.
But it’s still the first full-blown superhero blockbuster to arrive anywhere in 2020, and for that, fans are grateful. Wonder Woman 1984 will stream for all HBO Max subscribers starting on Christmas day and play in theaters.
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