'Wonder Woman 1984' will debut in theaters and on HBO Max this Christmas

Gal Gadot stars as Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman 1984.”
Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. is taking a page out of Universal’s theatrical playbook. On Wednesday, HBO Max announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” would arrive on its streaming service on Dec. 25, the same day it hits theaters.

The move comes as coronavirus cases in the U.S. reach record highs and studios worry that audiences won’t flock to cinemas, even for new titles.

“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,” said Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group. “…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.”

Movie theater chains have been battered by the coronavirus. Shutdowns plagued the bottom line during the first six months of the pandemic and during the last three months, cinemas have struggled to entice moviegoers away from their couches. Much of their trouble stems from a lack of new blockbuster features.

The majority of studios have opted to push their films further down the theatrical calendar to a time where, hopefully, coronavirus cases have been stemmed.

The decision to keep “Wonder Woman 1984” on the 2020 calendar will allow theater chains to make a profit off ticket sales and also drive subscriber sign-ups to HBO Max.

The first “Wonder Woman” film had a $100 million opening weekend domestically and went on to garner more than $820 million at the global box office. The sequel likely won’t repeat those financial gains during its debut, but its presence in the theaters is a boon for cinema owners, who a desperately seeking new content to generate cash.

Movie theater chains big and small have warned that they need new content in order to remain open. Without titles like “Wonder Woman 1984” many would be forced to file for bankruptcy in order to restructure their finances and stay afloat.

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