“Wonder Woman 1984,” the last potential blockbuster remaining on the 2020 movie calendar, will open both in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s new streaming service, HBO Max, on Dec. 25, the company announced Wednesday.
The news was expected, as many cities around the country have shut down theaters in an attempt to stem a rise in Covid-19 cases. Internationally, the film will open in theaters on Dec. 16.
Warner Bros. made the announcement four months after the studio tried to lure moviegoers back to theaters with the summer release of “Tenet” from the director Christopher Nolan. That film generated some $353 million worldwide, with only $56 million coming from U.S. audiences. The $200 million sci-fi film is expected to lose money for the studio.
With the box office so uncertain, a streaming debut should provide a boost to HBO Max, which has struggled to generate consumer enthusiasm since it started in May. WarnerMedia said “Wonder Woman 1984” would be available to stream for a month at no extra cost to subscribers, which as of last month totaled 38 million.
Offering a superhero film during the holidays, when many expect much of the country to be shut down, could be just the boon the company is looking for. (This week, WarnerMedia announced that HBO Max would be available on Amazon’s Fire Stick. It is still not available with Roku streaming technology.)
“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,” said Ann Sarnoff, chief executive of WarnerMedia Studios. “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.”
The first “Wonder Woman,” from 2017, earned $800 million worldwide. Of that, $400 million came from audiences in the United States and Canada. The sequel takes place in 1984 and reunites the director Patty Jenkins with the actors Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. Kristen Wiig will portray the villain Cheetah.