Warner Bros. made a huge move recently when it announced that all its major theatrical releases, starting with Wonder Woman 1984 and running throughout 2021, would debut on the HBO Max streaming service on the same day they hit theaters. This was clearly a move to bolster subscriber numbers for HBO Max, so, as it regards Wonder Woman 1984, did it work? Quite possibly.
While it's impossible to know exactly how many people subscribed to HBO Max specifically to be able to watch Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros. and HBO parent company AT&T announced in their most recent quarterly earnings report (via CNET) that HBO Max subscriptions increased to 17.2 million in the previous quarter, up from 8.6 million at the end of the previous quarter.
That's certainly a significant jump in subscribers in fairly short order. HBO Launched at the end of May, so those first eight million odd subscribers joined between then and the end of September, and the balance joined from October through December.
It's impossible to know for sure exactly why so many people subscribed to HBO Max in the last three months, but it's difficult to doubt that Wonder Woman 1984 had something to do with it. It was announced in mid-November that the DC superhero movie would get the HBO Max debut so potential consumers were, at the very least, aware that the movie was coming when they subscribed.
It's also difficult to estimate how many of these new subscribers actually mean more money in AT&T's pocket. Technically, anybody who subscribes to HBO through any normal cable or satellite provider can sign-up for HBO Max and no additional cost, and some of these new subscribers may simply be people who hadn't gotten around to signing up yet.
The real test may come in another three months when the next batch of quarterly numbers come out. Are people keeping their subscriptions in order to watch everything else on HBO Max, including all the other films that will be coming this year? Alternatively did everybody watch Wonder Woman 1984 and then turn around and cancel?
Of course, it has to be said that Godzilla Vs. Kong is set to debut on the last day of March, so even if there's been a drop off of subscribers since Wonder Woman 1984 came out, HBO Max will almost certainly see another boost when that film drops. As such, the subscriber numbers next quarter will likely be solid as well. The buzz coming off the new trailer certainly implies a lot of people will be checking that particular movie out.
Certainly HBO Max looks to be building its subscriber base. And while the powers that be likely wanted to see these numbers grow faster, if the day-and-date plan does its job and subscribers stay around to watch everything else on the service, then the criticism WB has received will likely be seen as worth it.