The pandemic has led to movie studios needing to get creative with releasing its movies. For Warner Bros, this resulted in launching a day-and-date release plan, with all of its 2021 movies being released on HBO Max for a 31 day-period at the same time as they premiered in theaters. This approach was first implemented with Wonder Woman 1984 in December 2020, and while director Patty Jenkins understands why this needed to be done, she also hopes that she never has to deal with such a release plan ever again.
During a panel at CinemaCon on Thursday (via The Wrap), Patty Jenkins acknowledged that putting Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max as it was playing in theaters was “best choice in a bunch of bad choices at the moment” since COVID-19 vaccines hadn’t become widely available yet. The Wonder Woman 1984 filmmaker continued:
It was hard to determine what to do with one’s film. For me, I was looking at what turned out to be true, which is that we had no idea when this pandemic was going to get under control, and the film had been finished for a while so it was one of those overdue films. It was hugely detrimental to the movie but I was thinking, ‘What else are we going to do, wait two or three more years?'
So on the one hand, Patty Jenkins is well aware that Warner Bros was in a tough spot, and Wonder Woman 1984 had indeed been ready to go for a long time. Ahead of COVID-19 becoming widespread, the plan was to deliver it to the masses on June 5, 2020, but then it was delayed to August 14, followed by a push to October 2 and then finally settling into its Christmas Day slot. Warner Bros announced in mid-November that the movie would be accessible on HBO Max too, and just a few weeks later, the studio decided to do the same with its 2021 movies.
On the other hand, just like fellow directors/Warner Bros contributors Christoper Nolan and Denis Villeneuve, Patty Jenkins values the big screen experience, and seeing another one of her movies go up on streaming at the same time as they’re in theaters is something she hopes to avoid “forever.” She said it was “heartbreaking” that many people would see Wonder Woman 1984 on a TV or laptop screen first instead of a movie theater, then added:
Look, I make movies for the theatrical experience. That’s the sandbox I’m in. It’s OK for me if you watch it a second or third time on your phone, but I grew up loving the cinema.
As far as Warner Bros is concerned, Patty Jenkins can take comfort knowing no one will have to deal with this kind of day-and-date approach next year. Earlier this month, the studio struck a deal with AMC Theatres to ensure that all of its 2022 movies will play exclusively in theaters for 45 days, which looks like it’s becoming the new theatrical window norm. Regarding Wonder Woman 1984, due to the extreme circumstances in which it was released, the sequel only made $166.5 million worldwide off a $200 million budget, and was met with mixed critical reception.
Fortunately for fans of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins has signed on to make Wonder Woman 3, and she’s also executive producing an Amazons spinoff that will be linked to events between Wonder Woman 1984 and the upcoming threequel. Elsewhere in the cinematic space, Jenkins is working on the Star Wars movie Rogue Squadron, which will be released on December 22, 2023.