Sunday, November 29, 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 sticks to Christmas cinema release – but will also be on digital | Wonder Woman


The decision by Warner Bros to release Christopher Nolan’s Tenet in cinemas last August despite depleted venues and public confidence was hailed as a brave attempt to save a beleaguered industry. The lukewarm numbers – just $56m in the US – were reckoned by some to have been behind Universal’s announcement that they were postponing the release of Bond movie No Time to Die to April 2021; a move that in turn was blamed by Cineworld for their decision to close all venues in the US and UK.

Yet the studio has doubled down on the strategy, announcing plans to stick to a Christmas Day cinema release for superhero sequel Wonder Woman 1984 – although the film will also be simultaneously available online.

The film, which reunites star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, will release in UK cinemas on 16 December, despite continued uncertainty over whether they will reopen in time after the current lockdown.

In the US, the film will open in cinemas on Christmas Day, as well as on HBO Max, where it will remain for a month before moving to other streaming platforms. Although some screens are open and trade at drive-ins is higher than for some generations, most screens remain closed, including in key markets such as New York and Los Angeles.

Jenkins broke the news of the hybrid release strategy on Twitter, saying:

THE TIME HAS COME. At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else.
“We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.
Watch it IN THEATRES, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theatres have done to make it so!) and available in the safety of your own home on HBO MAX where it is not.

Happy holidays to all of you. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it.

The move was hailed as a potential salvation both by cinema owners and by audience members eager not to leave their own homes during the festive season.

It presents a major scalp for HBO Max, which launched in May and whose premieres to date – including Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle and the Robert Zemeciks remake of The Witches – have struggled to make a substantial impact in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Also releasing online on Christmas Day is Soul, Pixar’s much-acclaimed latest, whose cinema release has been cancelled in favour of a worldwide premiere on Disney+.

Wonder Woman 1984 was originally scheduled to open in June this year; that date shifted to August and then to October. However, in sticking to some theatrical release this year, the film distinguishes itself as the sole superhero franchise film to have held firm amid the coronavirus storm. Disney has moved Black Widow and The Eternals to 2021; The Batman has moved to 2022.

The film’s performance in cinemas in particular, therefore, becomes another significant barometer of audience appetite for a return to the big screen. Pundits will be keen to assess not just the impact it makes on the first day of release but over the subsequent weeks; the original film quadrupled its US box office takings after the opening weekend.

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