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Wonder Woman 1984 gets limited HBO Max release as WarnerMedia mulls theatrical release strategy

WarnerMedia has announced that its eagerly anticipated superhero movie Wonder Woman 1984 will launch simultaneously in cinemas and on SVOD HBO Max in December.

The move will come as a blow to a cinema industry which has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, though Warner is looking to placate theatre operators by bringing it to cinemas as well.

In a somewhat convoluted release strategy, WarnerMedia announced that, in the US, the film will be available on HBO Max for one month from December 25, after which point it will exclusively play in theatres. Following that traditional cinema window, the film will make its way to digital retailers like Amazon and iTunes, before then returning to HBO Max at some future stage.

The US is currently in the midst of a third Covid-19 wave, with the country recording well over 100,000 new cases per day. While there are few restrictions on businesses – and those being implemented are on a state-by-state basis – movie distributors have been pushing back many high-profile releases.

The highest profile of these was No Time To Die, the latest James Bond movie – a decision which caused theatre chains Regal and Cineworld to announce that they would be closing all their cinemas for the rest of the year

Some, like Disney, are going the full digital route. The company attracted controversy for its decision to charge Disney+ subscribers movie theatre prices for ‘premiere access’ to Mulan, while Disney has shifted Pixar animated feature Soul to exclusively stream on the platform from December 25. Disney also has delayed theatrical releases, including Marvel movie Black Widow which will release in 2021.

While Wonder Woman 1984 will be available on HBO Max in the US, the film will still see a cinematic release in less Covid-affected nations on December 16.