Even before Covid, Wonder Woman 1984 had been delayed. It was supposed to come out in December of 2019, then November of that year, before getting bumped back to the summer of 2020. By the fall of 2020, with widespread vaccinations months away, it was decided that the film couldn’t sit on the shelf any longer. Warner Bros. put the movie out in theaters and on its new HBO Max streaming service at the same time, a prelude to the company’s plan to bolster the site by releasing all of its 2021 films day-and-date in theaters and at home.
The film did make $166 million worldwide, not nothing in a Covid world. Still that’s a small fraction of the $822 million the first Wonder Woman made in theaters. And although director Patty Jenkins supported the release at the time, she has now admitted that the experience was “heartbreaking.”
At a CinemaCon event this week (via Deadline), Jenkins called the decision to release Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and theaters simultaneously “the best choice in a bunch of bad choices at the moment” as well as a “heartbreaking experience.”
It was detrimental to the movie … I don’t think it plays the same on streaming, ever … I’m not a fan of day-and-date and I hope to avoid it forever. I make movies for the big-screen experience.
She also said that while she’d happily make a television show for Netflix, she would not make a film for it or any streaming service.
Jenkins’ comments are far from the only negative ones to come out of Warner Bros.’ HBO Max experiment. When they first announced the decision to push all their 2021 movies to streaming and theaters simultaneously, Christopher Nolan — who had made Tenet with Warner Bros. just a few months earlier — publicly called HBO Max “the worst streaming service.” Denis Villeneuve, whose Dune is part of the Warners slate that will debut on HBO Max this year, wrote an angry editorial in Variety claiming Warners’ parent company, AT&T, had “hijacked one of the most respectable and important studios in film history.”
Unfortunately, with Covid cases rising around the world, it seems like releases like Wonder Woman 1984’s and Dune’s are only going to get more common, not less. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman 1984 is still streaming on HBO Max. Dune debuts there on October 22. Warner Bros. has said it will return to a more traditional release schedule for its blockbusters in 2022. We’ll see.
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