Wonder Woman 1984 will now have a simultaneous release on HBO Max and in theaters on December 25th, and the reasoning behind that is obvious.
Wonder Woman 1984 will officially release domestically on HBO Max and in theaters on December 25, 2020, and with the current state of affairs in the world, this is the most viable release strategy. The highly anticipated sequel to 2017's DCEU hit Wonder Woman has been subject to numerous delays, and its HBO Max debut alongside a theatrical release is a massive departure from how superhero movies are usually rolled out, though it will reportedly debut in theaters internationally on December 16th. However, the reasoning behind Wonder Woman 1984's HBO Max release is obvious.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major factor in day-to-day life, and the film industry has been dramatically impacted by it. Disney released Mulan as a premium Disney+ title, while nearly the entire summer 2020 release slate has been moved to 2021. Once movie theaters began re-opening with limited seating capacities, Christopher Nolan's Tenet finally debuted, but its domestic box office returns showed the pandemic remains a roadblock to anything resembling the numbers expected of modern blockbusters.
Under normal circumstances, Wonder Woman 1984 was a sure massive summer hit after the popularity of its predecessor and Gal Gadot's acclaimed portrayal of the character. Unfortunately, with the pandemic ongoing and movie theaters not filling to full capacity, a box office success on the level of the first Wonder Woman movie is just not possible in the immediate future. This development also comes shortly after Universal and Cinemark struck a deal for shorter theatrical runs, so maintaining a theatrical release of some kind also satisfies the Warner Bros. relationship with theatrical exhibitors. The other big factor at play is the importance of HBO Max to Warner Media.
First launched back in May, HBO Max is intended as a huge asset and revenue source for Warner Media. The service already has a major DC title lined up with the debut of Zack Snyder's Justice League next year. With the pandemic still dictating how movies are released, the choice was essentially to continue delaying Wonder Woman 1984 until theaters are in a position to support blockbusters, or make the film available as a streaming title on HBO Max. It remains a shot in the dark as to when the former outcome will finally be possible again, and even then, theaters are seemingly transitioning to being venues for only the biggest movies around. Under the circumstances, an HBO Max release was simply the best course of action, and doubtlessly one that will be huge for subscriptions to the platform.
Like every anticipated movie of 2020, the unexpected situation faced by Wonder Woman 1984 is extremely unfortunate. However, all filmmakers and studios can do at the moment is just play the hand they've been dealt by the pandemic. Furthermore, with the pandemic still ongoing, there's no guarantee any of the delayed films will maintain their new dates. Combined with Warner Media's investment into HBO Max, the dual streaming and theatrical release strategy for Wonder Woman 1984 was the best route to take, and with the conditions that led to it happening, it very likely will not be the last upcoming tentpole movie to do so.