The highly anticipated superhero sequel is now going to streaming alongside a theatrical run.
Credit: Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

The DC tentpole will now hit HBO Max on Dec. 25 and be available to U.S. subscribers for one month at no additional cost, as well as hitting any theaters that are still open, the studio announced Wednesday. International theaters will be getting it one week earlier starting on Dec. 16.

"THE TIME HAS COME," director Patty Jenkins wrote in a statement shared on social media. "At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else. We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season. Watch it IN THEATERS, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theaters have done to make it so!) And available in the safety of your home on HBOMAX where it is not. Happy holidays to all of you. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it."

The decision is eyebrow-raising, to say the least. The first Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot as the fierce Amazonian warrior woman from the mythic island of Themyscira, grossed more than $821 million worldwide after hitting theaters in 2017. The sequel was expected to gross even more.

Wonder Woman 1984 was originally set to hit theaters this past summer, on June 5, and Warner Bros. had been vigilant in maintaining a theatrical run by delaying the film again and again due to the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the beginning of November, 1984 was still on the docket for a Christmas Day theatrical premiere, but now COVID cases are rising again in the United States. Counties in California and New York, which make up a major market for theaters, began imposing stricter coronavirus restrictions on public spaces this month.

Other Warners Bros. releases received earlier streaming bows or skipped theaters entirely for HBO Max. But, unlike Scoob and The Witches, 1984 was positioned as a major blockbuster.

"As we navigate these unprecedented times, we've had to be innovative in keeping our businesses moving forward while continuing to super-serve our fans," Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, said in a statement. "This is an amazing film that really comes to life on the big screen and, working with our partners in the exhibition community, we will provide that option to consumers in the U.S. where theaters are open. We realize that a lot of consumers can't go back to the movies due to the pandemic, so we also want to give them the option to see Wonder Woman 1984 via our HBO Max platform."

Wonder Woman 1984 picks up with Diana Prince (Gadot) during the Cold War in Washington, D.C., where she works at the Smithsonian with gemologist Barbara Minerva (Bridesmaids' Kristen Wiig), who undergoes a monstrous transformation into the villain Cheetah as she's seduced by con-man Maxwell Lord (The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal). Chris Pine's Steve Trevor, the American spy who crash landed on Themyscira in World War I, makes a miraculous return under still-unknown circumstances.

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