Warner Bros. has finally decided to toss its long-delayed Wonder Woman 1984 to fans, pandemic or no. The studio announced that it will release the film on both HBO Max and in theaters on December 25th.
In a Tweet, director Patty Jenkins said that “at some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” and says that fans will be able to watch the film in the safety of their own homes or in theaters where it’s safe to do so.
— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) November 18, 2020
According to Warner Bros., the film will be available to HBO Max subscribers for free — a departure from Disney’s approach with its direct-to-streaming release for its live action film, Mulan earlier this year. In that instance, Disney released the film to Disney+ subscribers, but with an additional fee of $30. When Wonder Woman 1984 does debut on December 25th, it’ll join another Disney film released directly to streaming, Soul, which won’t have an additional fee attached to it.
The finality of Wonder Woman’s release date comes after numerous delays for the project. The film was originally scheduled to hit theaters on December 13th, 2019, but was bumped up a month to November 1st before being pushed back to June 5th so as not to conflict with Todd Philips’ Joker.
But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, throwing the theatrical calendar out the window. Faced with the prospect of closed theaters in June, Warner Bros. pushed the film back to August 14th, hoping the pandemic would be on its way out. It was an overly optimistic wish, and in June, the studio reshuffled its entire film portfolio, pushing back Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984 (to October 2nd), Godzilla vs. Kong to 2021 and The Matrix 4 to 2022. In September, it bumped it back again to December 25th, where it currently sits.
The film was widely expected to be bumped to 2021 (the studio has already moved its other big December blockbuster, Dune), but in recent days, speculation has bubbled up that the studio was considering moving it over to its new streaming service, HBO Max.
That move certainly seems to be a difficult decision for the studio, which has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Wonder Woman 1984. But moving it over to its streaming service could end up being a good thing for the studio: It’s a massive, highly-anticipated blockbuster that will undoubtedly pull in brand new subscribers to the streaming service. Some of those subscribers will likely keep their subscriptions to keep watching the other offerings that Warner Bros. has, which includes a wide range of original projects coming up.
Those original projects include plenty of DC projects: Tie-in shows for Matt Reeves’ The Batman and James Gunn’s Suicide Squad, a Green Lantern series, a new season of Doom Patrol, as well as a trio of shows from J.J. Abrams.
While most directors have tried to hold the line and see their creations end up in theaters where they were designed to be shown, it’s clear that those plans just aren’t tenable. In Wonder Woman’s case, it looks like Warner Bros. is making the best of it, releasing the film to theaters where it’s safe, and at home where it isn’t. At the very least, a big, smashy blockbuster film to watch on Christmas will be a nice reprieve from a dreary, stressful fall.