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Wonder Woman 1984 will debut on HBO Max this Christmas

The film will still see a theatrical release, but it’s a big move for the long-delayed blockbuster.

Wonder Woman holding up someone by the leg in Wonder Woman 1984. Warner Bros. Pictures

Amid another massive national spike in Covid-19 cases, Warner Bros. has announced that it will now debut Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max this Christmas.

All HBO Max subscribers will have access to the film starting December 25 at no additional cost. (A subscription to HBO Max costs $14.99 a month.) The film will continue to be a theatrical-only release in countries that do not yet have access to the HBO-branded streaming service, where it will be released December 16. WB specified that Wonder Woman 1984 will be available on HBO Max for “a month,” after which the film may presumably become available on other digital rental marketplaces.

The sequel to 2017’s hit DC superhero movie has held on tight to a 2020 release for the majority of the year. The release was initially slated for June, but Warner Bros. announced in March that it had delayed the film into August. Warner Bros. bumped the movie again over the summer, shifting it from August to October; finally, the film was rescheduled from October to December 25.

Director Patty Jenkins chimed in on the news via Twitter, advising Wonder Woman fans to watch the film in theaters if they have the option to do so.

“At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” said Jenkins, who publicly insisted in October that Wonder Woman 1984 would remain a theatrical release.

“Watch it IN THEATERS, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theaters have done to make it so!)” she added.

Although a few of 2020’s most anticipated movies held fast to their theatrical-first releases — notably the Christopher Nolan-directed Tenet, another WB film that premiered in September — the majority of blockbusters planned for 2020 have been kicked into 2021 and beyond. Many of these movies, like the James Bond sequel No Time to Die, the Avengers prequel Black Widow, and Fast and Furious 9, won’t debut until spring 2021 at the earliest. Some of them will ultimately launch more than a year after their originally scheduled releases.

Wonder Woman 1984 may now be the highest-budgeted movie to become available to streaming subscribers day-and-date with its theatrical release this year, following a precedent set during the pandemic for streaming-first major releases. Disney’s filmed version of the Broadway hit Hamilton was scheduled for an October 2021 release in theaters, but Disney dropped it during the Fourth of July weekend on Disney+ instead. The live-action remake of Mulan, first planned for a March release, ended up debuting on Disney+ instead of theaters in the US. That film cost subscribers an extra $30 to watch, however. Disney-Pixar’s Soul will also skip stateside theaters and head to Disney+ instead, but for no added fee (it will also debut December 25).

Theater chains and movie studios continue to hope — as we all do — that a vaccine for Covid-19 will be available early in 2021, so that people may start to feel comfortable heading back to theaters. The recent prognosis is good, with at least two possible vaccines showing promise in recent trials. In the meantime, cases are rising, authorities continue to advise people to stay home, and many movie theaters remain closed.

As for Wonder Woman 1984, the film will reunite Gal Gadot as the Amazonian princess Diana Prince with Chris Pine as her love, Steve Trevor. Kristen Wiig also appears as the villainous Cheetah, and her costume is something of a Christmas miracle in its own right.