Last week we were the first to break the news that Warner Bros. is planning to release Wonder Woman 1984 on streaming, when the movie’s planned Christmas Day 2020 release arrives. But big breaking news in the world of the pandemic over the weekend, combined with an urgent push from the movie’s director Patty Jenkins, has them reconsidering their streaming plans.
In response to our scoop that Warner Bros. was planning to stream Wonder Woman 1984, director Patty Jenkins had this to say: “Correct. Direct to streaming is not even being discussed. We are still 100% behind the theatrical experience for #WW84 and supporting our beloved theater business.”
Unfortunately for Patty Jenkins, she and her team aren’t responsible for deciding how Wonder Woman 1984 is being released. That decision is made by Warner Bros. executives and they’re the ones pushing towards releasing Wonder Woman 1984 on streaming. That said, Jenkins is fighting against it, hard.
Jenkins had this to say in an interview with Reuters: “If we shut this down, this will not be a reversible process… We could lose movie theater-going forever.” She continues, “I really hope that we are able to be one of the very first ones to come back and bring that into everyone’s life.”
Christopher Nolan used a similar argument to force Hollywood into releasing Tenet in theaters where, by the way, it has largely been a flop. And it didn’t bring people back to theaters at all. In fact more theaters are shutting down now, with all Regal locations now closed nationwide. And Patty Jenkins, despite her brilliance as a director and her recent success, is no Chris Nolan. She does not have his influence or his clout.
Meanwhile other movies that have been released direct to streaming have been hugely profitable, which puts a nail through the heart of this argument being made by Jenkins: “It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry, where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can’t be profitable.”
Early numbers on other streaming releases actually suggest that direct to streaming, as opposed to exclusive theatrical releases, may actually make the overall industry more profitable. It’ll kill movie theaters, but it’ll help the movies themselves make more money than ever.
All that being said, Warner Bros. is actually considering reversing course on their plans to release Wonder Woman 1984 direct to streaming. It has nothing to do with anything being argued by Patty Jenkins, though. Over the weekend the World Health Organization reversed course on their recommendation that lockdowns are the best way to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19 Dr. David Nabarro, speaking on behalf of WHO now says: “We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus.”
This new stance by the WHO suddenly makes the current approach of states like Florida, where lockdowns have been ended totally, seem a lot more reasonable. It also makes Sweden’s approach, where there never were any lockdowns at all, make a lot more sense in the eyes of the public.
Other doctors and scientists still disagree and say lockdowns are essential, but the WHO has been the go-to authority for pro-lockdown advocates throughout most of the COVID-19 pandemic. This sudden reverse course increases the chances that a majority of lockdowns may be ended by Wonder Woman 1984’s December 25 release date, which means movie theaters might actually be open in large numbers.
Warner Bros. and the rest of Hollywood has taken note, and now they’re monitoring closely to see how the WHO’s announcement will impact the lockdowns being imposed by local and state governments. If things change, our source now says Warner Bros will pull the plug on their streaming plans and go full, exclusive theatrical release instead. December is still a long way off, and anything can happen.