A Variety report reveals the unprecedented release strategy was due to Warner Bros. worrying Wonder Woman 1984 would “get stale” if it was delayed any further. The report cites the long delay between completing filming in 2018 and the original release date as a problem. The studio worried another delay wouldn’t even guarantee good box office returns, as no one knows when life will return to normal. As a result, studio execs decided to stick with the current release date and bring HBO Max into the release strategy to give Wonder Woman 1984 the biggest possible audience.
Many have questioned the reasoning behind the decision, with most assuming it was made after WB saw how poorly Christopher Nolan’s Tenet fared at the box office, despite being one of the most anticipated movies of 2020. However, this report makes it clear WB was scared fans would lose interest in the film, particularly after a year in which it was delayed, again and again, forcing the studio to release a succession of trailers, most of which contained variations on the same footage.
At some point, WB was going to have to decide to release the movie. Clearly, they believe a streaming release during the holidays, when families will be at home and mostly not working, is the best chance they have to get a broad audience for Wonder Woman 1984 and potentially gain a lot of new HBO Max subscribers in the process. It remains to be seen if the strategy will pay off or not, but it likely won’t be any worse than releasing the movie to empty theaters a few months later.
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