Los Angeles: The superhero movie “Wonderful Woman 1984” will debut in American theaters and AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max streaming service starting Christmas, an unusual release plan triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
AT&T’s Warner Bros. Studios said on Wednesday that the blockbuster movie will be shown in theaters outside the United States on December 16, where HBO Max is not yet available.
“For a movie of this scale, this is unprecedented,” WarnerMedia Chief Executive Jason Kilar said in a blog post explaining why the company decided to provide the movie in homes and theaters at the same time.
Movies are usually only shown in cinemas for about 75 days before they can be shown elsewhere.
The action spectacle “The Wonderful Woman 1984” starring Gal Gadot was originally scheduled to be released in June 2020.
But Hollywood studios postponed most of the summer blockbuster movies to 2021 because the virus closed many theaters in major markets and destroyed theater operators, including AMC Entertainment and Cineworld Group Plc.
“Wonder Woman 1984” was moved several times and is the last big-budget action film on the 2020 schedule.
Director Patty Jenkins, who had pushed for a theatrical release, supported the plan.
“At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” Jenkins wrote on Twitter. “We truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.”
Gadot said the move “wasn’t an easy decision.”
“We never thought we’d have to hold onto the release for such a long time,” she tweeted, “but COVID rocked all of our worlds.”
Kilar said he believes that this strategy will “benefit fans, theater operators and companies in a dramatic form and in the form of fan responses through HBO Max in the United States.”
The company is trying to attract new subscribers to HBO Max, which was launched in May and costs $15 a month to compete with Netflix Inc.
It is unclear how many people will head to theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic when they can watch “Wonder Woman 1984” in their living rooms. Theaters in Los Angeles and New York, the biggest U.S. moviegoing markets, remain closed. Cinemas open in other areas have limited ticket sales and taken other steps to prevent transmission of the virus.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is a sequel to 2017 hit “Wonder Woman,” which collected $821.8 million in global ticket sales.