On Christmas Day Wonder Woman 1984 will achieve the dubious honor of becoming the highest profile movie to make the jump to streaming when it debuts on HBO Max. While the movie will also be available to watch in theaters, between many theaters not being open and audiences potentially not being willing to visit the theaters that are open, it seems to be all but guaranteed that, from a box office standpoint, Wonder Woman 1984 will struggle. However, Patty Jenkins has come to terms with that fact, believing that, in the end, it's more important that the movie be seen.
The entertainment business has always been an awkward blending of entertainment and business. A movie is, ultimately, a work of art, but it also needs to be a work of art that is profitable in order for studios to be able to continue to make that art. While it's easy to focus on one side or the other of that equation, both are important. However, as Patty Jenkins recently told i09, the decision to move the new Wonder Woman 1984 to HBO Max was one of sacrificing the business side in order to focus on the art. According to Jenkins...
It was one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever made. But it’s interesting to actually sit there and face, like, ‘OK, we’re giving up the money. You’re not making any money with your film.’ But the truth is, what’s the point of a film? The point of the film is the message you’re trying to connect to the world with. That’s the most important thing. So in that way, when this idea was presented, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, this is the moment.’ This is the moment where this thing we have can become something to give, and a better thing, and and try to be about hope.
The money side of the business is important to the creative side of the business, but as Patty Jenkins says, for her, the movie is about the message and right now it's more important that the message get out, and so it's worth sacrificing the box office to make that happen. She specifically feels that the movie getting in front of an audience right now is important.
Without saying it, Patty Jenkins is certainly talking about getting this message out in a world where a global pandemic and political upheaval have wreaked havoc for people emotionally. The director says herself that the experience of the last several months has been "surreal" as she's continued to wait for the day when this film would finally be released...
I just cooked and cleaned all year and no one has seen it until today. It’s been so surreal because you worked so, so hard and then all of a sudden you’re just like popped right out to a world as if it never existed.
The fact that Wonder Woman 1984 won't see the massive box office numbers that films of its size, and critical praise, tend to get is one thing. Of course, the movie will still technically make money more than likely. HBO Max could very easily see a massive subscriber boost in December from people who specifically want to watch the new film. Of course, Warner Bros. is going to be calculating that money a little differently and it will be largely impossible to give Patty Jenkins' new film direct credit for that.
Of course, with Warner Bros. release plan for 2021, Wonder Woman 1984 won't be the only movie that will have to work within this unique release structure. Many are wondering if this could be the first step towards studios no longer relying on box office receipts at all. Time will tell.