“Patty is an exceptional filmmaker and with Wonder Woman 1984 she has delivered an incredibly dynamic film that moviegoers of all ages around the world will absolutely love,” Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. chairman, told Variety. “We’re very proud of the film and look forward to bringing it to audiences for the holidays.”
It’s unclear if Wonder Woman 1984’s delay also affects the studio’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve. The film is slated to be released in December, too, and Variety notes that it’s currently still on track to hit that date. That said, nothing is certain. Notably, the first trailer for Dune debuted just a couple of days ago. A date was not included in the trailer; instead, it simply said, “Coming to theaters.”
Wonder Woman 1984’s delay comes just a couple of weeks after Warner Bros. returned to theaters with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. The film has grossed just over $152 million since it debuted two weeks ago internationally, hitting select theaters in the United States last week. Tenet landed in the United States over the Labor Day weekend, bringing in $20 million. Despite having its own major streaming platform in the form of HBO Max, Warner Bros. has committed to keeping its biggest films as theatrical releases. That’s why Tenet received a staggered release instead of being made available on digital retailers.
The studio issued a statement following Tenet’s release in the US stating it was “very pleased with the initial results” but acknowledged that because of the current restrictions in place at theaters amid the ongoing pandemic (not to mention people’s hesitance about being in movie theaters right now), it “always knew this release plan would be a marathon not a sprint.”
“We are in unprecedented territory, so any comparisons to the pre-COVID world would be inequitable and baseless,” the statement read.
Tenet is being watched as one of the first major blockbusters to try to usher people back to theaters. Disney decided to forgo a theatrical release for its live-action adaptation of Mulan in countries where Disney Plus exists — most notably, the United States. The film was released in China today, where it was always expected to perform better, on September 11th. Paramount decided to release its SpongeBob SquarePants movie in Canada in August, but it moved the film to a digital exclusive in the United States where it will debut in 2021.
Studios are still trying to figure out what the right course of action is for their biggest films. Marvel Studios and Disney will have to figure out what they want to do with Black Widow, the next installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is key to kicking off Marvel’s fourth phase of films. Everything is dependent on when people can safely return to theaters and theaters across the country open up. Until then, deciding to release a $200 million blockbuster without a return on investment guarantee, moving a film to a digital exclusive, or delaying a movie and hoping for the best are the only three options studio heads have before them.