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Following Warner Bros’ monumental Wonder Woman 1984 decision that will have the DC movie coming to theaters and premiering on HBO Max simultaneously on Christmas Day, Sony has decided to bring in some box office competition. Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter will now come exclusively to theaters on December 25 as well. The video-game adaptation just moved up its release date five days to coincide with Diana Prince’s return to the big screen.

The action flick reteams Resident Evil collaborators Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich for a fantasy-epic centering on a military unit that accidentally gets transported into another dimension where huge and terrifying monsters run rampant. Monster Hunter was initially coming to theaters in September before the pandemic shifted its spot on the calendar. It was moved down to April 2021 before the studio decided to pull it back to December 2020.

The decision will now allow holiday moviegoers a couple options, among the 50% of U.S. theaters open anyway. According to Deadline, Warner Bros is negotiating with exhibitors to occupy theaters halfway with Wonder Woman 1984 as it stands. We’ll have to see if this complicates things for the superhero film seat-wise, and just how large of a presence Monster Hunter will get. The key difference between the two films is Monster Hunter will be debuting only in theaters, whereas Wonder Woman 1984 will offer instant streaming access to HBO Max subscribers for one month.

With Monster Hunter on board for a theatrical release, this will make for a unique Christmas box office weekend, solely because there’s never been a situation like this before in theatrical history. We’ll get to see how an exclusively theatrical release does during the holidays opposite a highly-anticipated tentpole film that will also be available at home to fans.

Christmas weekend is infamously a huge window for theaters and studios to make a lot of cash, but since COVID-19, no movie has been able to crack $400 million. Tenet has done well enough for itself at $353 million under the circumstances, but against billion dollar expectations the $250 million project may have made, not so much. A movie like Monster Hunter has huge overseas potential, especially since the game it's based off of is especially huge in China and Japan.

While this announcement may mean Warner Bros and Sony have to split some box office cash, it will be beneficial to struggling theaters after a particularly dark time for exhibitors. AMC Theatres just showed its support for Wonder Woman 1984 hitting theaters, despite its aside with HBO Max, stating it was in “fully onboard” with Warner Bros decision. Monster Hunter and Wonder Woman 1984 are currently the only major live-action movies hitting theaters during the final days of 2020.

Plan ahead for next year with CinemaBlend’s 2021 release schedule.

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