<img src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/ww1984-1-800×532.jpg" alt = "Wonder Woman 1984 showed the strongest box office to date during the pandemic, although many cinemas are still closed. Warner Bros. has just accelerated a third film in the franchise, with director Patty Jenkins at the helm. "/> Enlarge /. Wonder Woman 1984 saw the strongest box office ever during the pandemic, although many cinemas are still closed. Warner Bros. has just accelerated a third film in the franchise, with director Patty Jenkins at the helm.
Wonder Woman 1984 posted the biggest box office yet during the ongoing pandemic, though many cinemas are still closed and grossed an estimated $ 85 million worldwide. The film was simultaneously released on HBO Max on Christmas Day, and the streamer also reported that downloads were in high demand. Given that strong performance (especially given the unprecedented circumstances), Warner Bros. has hastened a third Wonder Woman film, with Patty Jenkins as director and Gal Gadot in the title role, and returning.
"As fans around the world continue to embrace Diana Prince and fuel the strong performance of Wonder Woman 1984 opening weekend, we're excited to continue her story with our real Wonder Women – Gal and Patty – who will return to do just that end long-planned theater trilogy, "said Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, in a statement.
The studio has not released any hard streaming numbers for HBO Max, just the following statement: "Almost half of the platform's retail subscribers who watch the film on the day of its arrival, as well as millions of wholesale subscribers who have access through HBO Max cable, Radio or other partner services. HBO Max also more than tripled the total viewing hours on Friday compared to a typical day in the previous month. "According to Bloomberg News, the market research company Apptopia has estimated that 554,000 users signed up for the HBO Max app between Friday (Christmas Day) and Sunday. There were 244,000 downloads on Sunday alone, a daily record for the streaming platform.
"Wonder Woman 1984 broke records in the first 24 hours of service and exceeded our expectations for all major ad and subscriber metrics. The interest and momentum we're seeing suggest this is likely well beyond the weekend will continue, "Andy Forssell, executive vice president and general manager of WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consume, said in a statement. "In these very difficult times, it was nice to allow families to enjoy this uplifting movie at home where going to the theater wasn't an option."
As Anthony D & # 39; Alessandro pointed out at Deadline Hollywood, the 1985 Wonder Woman box office is still "a pre-pandemic by normal market disaster," and he questioned the wisdom of a simultaneous theatrical release and streaming release. "Why can a lucrative intellectual property at the box office be damaged by forcing a theatrical release when the exhibition is barely running and the feature can be copied via the HBO Max streaming drop?" (It is estimated that, given its blockbuster production budget, Wonder Woman would have to raise $ 500 million worldwide in 1984 to break even.)
D & # 39; Alessandro also delivered a sobering reality check regarding this HBO Max performance:
With all the fairy tale notions that HBO Max subscriptions will make up for a shortage at the global box office for WW84, note the following: To make a ton of money, WarnerMedia needs to expand its subscriber base outside of HBO. AT&T reported in the third quarter that there were 38 million subscribers between HBO Pay Cable Subs and HBO Max Subs. John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, recently reported at the UBS Global TMT Virtual Conference that HBO Max added 4 million customer activations to reach 12.6 million. WarnerMedia does not make money by simply enabling current HBO subscribers for HBO Max subscribers with WW84. You have major additions to make from outsiders, and for now, HBO Max is just an American service. If 38 million households became active on HBO Max over the holiday weekend and it was assumed that possibly two tickets per household were purchased, that's 76 million tickets that weren't sold for WW84. But again, WW84's leverage on HBO Max was a marketing stunt to improve the streamer's profile. Imagine that.
Earlier this month, WarnerMedia announced that it would have a similar concurrent digital / theater launch plan for all films, set to be released in 2021. This is another major blow to cinemas, which are still suffering from a raging pandemic that is showing no signs of slowing down. especially in the United States. The entire film series will be available to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days. After that they will only be played in cinemas. As soon as the traditional time between theatrical release and home release has passed, the films can be rented via the usual online platforms (Amazon, iTunes or Fandango). That 2021 list includes the little things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Godzilla vs Kong, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In the Heights, Space Jam : A New Legacy, The Suicide Squad, Throwback, Vicious, Dune, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, Cry Macho, and Matrix 4.
WarnerMedia Chairman and CEO Ann Sarnoff described the model as a "unique one-year plan" given the unprecedented challenges the pandemic poses to the industry. This is unlikely to continue until 2022. But it still doesn't fit well with the exhibitors struggling to survive. "This continues to feel like a doomsday scenario for an exhibition and we'll see how the market plays out once the pandemic sets in," noted D & # 39; Alessandro at Deadline Hollywood
It is not yet clear whether the as-yet-unnamed Wonder Woman 3 will follow a similar hybrid model or whether it will only appear in theaters. It all depends on when it's scheduled to be released (the script isn't finalized yet) and whether the pandemic has subsided enough that most theaters will be open by then. Obviously, Warner Bros. is hedging its bets for 2021. However, the studio recently announced that three big 2023 films were going straight to theaters: Coyote vs. Acme, Mad Max Prequel Furiosa, and The Color Purple. That's probably a good sign for the third episode of Wonder Woman.