Wonder Woman 1984 is officially delayed to Christmas 2020. The highly-anticipated DC Extended Universe sequel was supposed to have come out by now; at one point it was scheduled for a June premiere. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. had no choice but to move it back. After initially moving Wonder Woman 1984 to August, the studio then settled on an October release date, positioning Wonder Woman 1984 about a month after Tenet's domestic debut.
Movie theaters have recently reopened after being closed for months, counting on films like Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 to be a much-needed boost for business. But while Tenet scored the highest debut since the COVID-19 outbreak, its hard numbers were still not ideal for a $200 million tentpole. Tenet grossed $20.2 million domestically, though it's believed its actual opening weekend was closer to $10 million. As a result, there was talk of WB delaying their other big 2020 movies, and now the first domino has fallen.
Warner Bros. announced Wonder Woman 1984 is now scheduled to open on Christmas Day. Interestingly, WB is keeping Dune in its own December 2020 slot, with Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi epic opening one week prior to Wonder Woman 1984. The common belief was Wonder Woman 1984 would take Dune's release date, but both are coming out over the holidays.
Under normal circumstances, a studio would not release two of their biggest movies in close proximity to each other, but nothing about the 2020 movie release calendar is typical. With so many movies being delayed (several into 2021), WB believes there will be enough space for both Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune to perform well at the box office in December. Neither will be facing much competition, but it still remains to be seen if this plan delivers the desired results. Tenet's performance showed many people are wary of going back to the multiplex, and Dr. Anthony Fauci says it won't be safe to go back to the theater until a year after a COVID-19 vaccine is available. It's optimistic on WB's part to believe things will have substantially improved by December. More movie theaters may be open by then, but it still may not be worth releasing a $200 million blockbuster on the big screen. It wouldn't be surprising if Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune are delayed into next year.
This also shows WB is committed to giving both Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune a proper theatrical run, rather than looking into alternative modes of distribution. Since the studio did not even consider a premium VOD release for Tenet, it isn't surprising they're sticking to the theatrical model for their other tentpoles (for now, anyway). Moving one or both of these films to streaming could lead to a boost in HBO Max subscriptions and revenue, but there are still many questions about how viable VOD can me. Disney's Mulan made $33.5 million in its first weekend on Disney+, which is a fraction of what the studio's live-action remakes usually gross at the box office. It will be interesting to see if this Wonder Woman 1984 release date sticks.