“It’s a blockbuster, trust us.”
That was the essential takeaway from a WarnerMedia announcement Sunday, which touted the opening weekend performance of Wonder Woman 1984, both in theaters and on HBO Max.
WarnerMedia was assertive in its claim of success. But definitive benchmarks were hard to come by.
The $16.7 million grossed by the film in North American theaters starting Christmas Day through Sunday was the “top post-pandemic” domestic theatrical opening of 2020, WarnerMedia said. Combined with the movie’s international performance to date, it has taken in $85 million at the global box office, WarnerMedia said.
Wonder Woman 1984 is playing at only 2,100 U.S theaters, with only about 39% of U.S. cinemas representing 56% of domestic box office open.
As if gauging success in a theatrical market largely shuttered by the pandemic wasn’t already hard enough, WarnerMedia said the film’s day-and-date release on HBO Max also “broke usage records” on the subscription streaming platform.
The conglomerate said that half of HBO Max’s “retail subscribers” viewed Wonder Woman 1984 on Dec. 25, with “millions” of others who receive the service via wholesale agreements with pay TV operators also watching it.
WarnerMedia said it’s so bullish about the 1984 opening, it's “fast tracking” development of a third Wonder Woman film. Wonder Woman 1 & 2 writer Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot are signed on to reprise their roles, the conglomerate noted.
HBO Max’s Friday viewership was three times what it was on a typical day in November, Warner added. Some of that uptick, undoubtedly, had to do with the HBO Max app finally gaining support on the two biggest OTT device platforms, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
So, just as video streaming rendered the compelling Nielsen race moot, the cleanliness and certainty of the weekend box office could soon disappear, too, along with theatrical windows.
Wonder Woman 1984 is the first theatrical title released day and date on HBO Max. With WarnerMedia set to follow up this collapsed theatrical window strategy with all 17 films on its 2021 Warner Bros. slate, and catching plenty of flack from its creative partners for that decision, proving the concept makes economic sense is vital.
“Wonder Woman 1984 broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we’re seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend,” said Andy Forssell, executive VP and general manager of WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer, in a statement. “During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn’t an option.”
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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