Movie theaters' fate partly rests on Wonder Woman's (mixed) release

Monday, November 23, 2020 by Robinhood Snacks |
_On her way to (maybe) save movie theaters_

On her way to (maybe) save movie theaters

Save us, Gal... Theaters' holiday season rests in the hands of Wonder Woman Gal Gadot — aka, Princess of Themyscira (where everyone has an Israeli accent). AT&T-owned Warner Bros. is releasing "Wonder Woman 1984" on HBO Max and in theaters on Christmas Day. We've seen studios sending movies straight to streaming (Universal with "Trolls" and Disney with "Mulan") — but we've never quite seen this bold dual strategy.

  • Warner learned its lesson with "Tenet." It bravely insisted on a theatrical release for the Christopher Nolan blockbuster, but has only grossed $350M worldwide — not enough to cover production + marketing costs.
  • It's a win for HBO Max. Warner's streamer has brought in a respectable 8.6M subscribers since its May launch — but it's still far behind Disney+ (73M subs) and Netflix (195M subs).

The beginning of the end... of the "theatrical window." That's the period a movie has to be exclusively in theaters before home viewing release. AMC already slashed the window from 75 days to just 17 days for Universal films shown at its theaters. Last week, Universal struck another deal with Cinemark, shortening its window from three months to as little as 17 days, too.


This will be a big test for theaters... AMC, the world's largest theater chain, said it'll run out of cash soon without financial rescuing. 83% of its US theaters have reopened, but attendance is down ~85% — capacity is limited, and most blockbusters have been pushed to 2021 (cough, Disney). Meanwhile, Regal Cinemas is reportedly looking for a lifeline to avoid bankruptcy. "Wonder Woman” will test how love for the magic theater experience stacks up against streaming.