We reported it a month ago and now it is official: Wonder Woman 1984 will be debuting on the streaming platform HBO Max. The superhero blockbuster is planning to have a simultaneous debut in theaters and on WarnerMedia’s flagship streaming service. You’ll be able to see the film in theaters or at home on Christmas Day.
Before we dig into the finer details of this game-changing release strategy, check out the new Wonder Woman 1984 trailer that announced the news:
Unlike the Premier Access release strategy that Disney attempted when they released Mulan on Disney+, Wonder Woman 1984 is going to be available to all HBO Max subscribers at no additional cost. That seems to indicate that asking streaming service subscribers to pay an extra fee for certain movies is not something WarnerMedia thinks is a viable option. Instead, simply offering a major release on HBO Max will hopefully be enough to motivate consumers to sign up for the streaming service.
And they definitely need subscribers. HBO Max only ranks sixth when it comes to the number of subscribers for streaming services. The thinking is that the company will see a major uptick in subscribers over the holiday season thanks to the release of Wonder Woman 1984. But, there is another interesting wrinkle to this particular release: movie theaters will also be getting the tentpole franchise film at the exact same time.
This is where HBO Max could be leading a brand new way of approaching film distribution. Wonder Woman 1984 will be the first major motion picture to have a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release. Other movies either skipped theaters entirely (Disney/Pixar’s Soul) or still went with a premium video-on-demand release that required a one-time rental from consumers (Bill & Ted Face the Music).
Having Wonder Woman 1984 be available in both theaters and on a subscription-based streaming service at the same time is what is really revolutionary. We will get to see exactly what the disparity will be between people who decide to watch the movie at home and those who still feel like going to a movie theater. Frankly, we should be commending Warner Bros. for this release strategy since going to a movie theater is only going to become more difficult in the coming months. And with COVID-19 looking to get even worse over the winter, it is good that Warner Bros. is giving people the option to avoid as dangerous a place as a movie theater right now.
The big question is if this is just a temporary solution or the wave of the future. It will likely depend on the kind of response Wonder Woman 1984 receives. If the movie is well-liked by critics and audiences, it might motivate new subscribers for HBO Max. If the theatrical numbers are large enough, Warner Bros. might see these simultaneous releases as a way to manage their many delayed movies. We might not see as many flicks get pushed back as the pandemic continues to bring the future of moviegoing into an uncertain place.
We at Giant Freakin Robot want to tell Warner Bros. that we are very thankful for this decision regarding Wonder Woman 1984. It is the right move and could make WarnerMedia the forebearers of a new way of approaching studio film distribution. And if you are planning to subscribe to HBO Max for this landmark release, we encourage you to visit their feedback page and send them a message highlighting your reasons for subscribing. The more positive reactions they see from this release strategy, the more it will embolden them to think similarly about other movies in the future.