“Wonder Woman 1984” was the start of Warner Bros.’ year-long experiment with releasing movies in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously; but while director Patty Jenkins said it was a necessary move, she hopes she can “avoid it forever.”
Jenkins was asked about the day-and-date decision as part of a panel on Thursday at CinemaCon, and her remarks were met with applause by the audience of movie theater owners. Releasing “WW84” was the “best choice in a bunch of bad choices at the moment,” she said, given that COVID-19 vaccines had yet to receive emergency approval and the film’s Christmas Day release coincided with the biggest spike in infections in the U.S.
“It was hard to determine what to do with one’s film. For me, I was looking at what turned out to be true, which is that we had no idea when this pandemic was going to get under control, and the film had been finished for a while so it was one of those overdue films,” she said. “It was hugely detrimental to the movie but I was thinking, ‘What else are we going to do, wait two or three more years?’”
But Jenkins, like “Dune” director Denis Villeneuve and “Tenet” director Christopher Nolan, has championed the importance of releasing films on the big screen, and said it was “heartbreaking” that many people would see her DC blockbuster for the first time on a TV screen or laptop instead of a movie theater.
“Look, I make movies for the theatrical experience. That’s the sandbox I’m in,” she said. “It’s OK for me if you watch it a second or third time on your phone, but I grew up loving the cinema.”
“Wonder Woman 1984” was watched by 3.9 million households in the first 17 days of its run on HBO Max, according to Samba TV, but only opened to $16.7 million at the domestic box office compared to $103 million for the first “Wonder Woman” in 2017. Still, given that thousands of theaters were still closed at the time, it was a respectable figure as hardcore DC fans bought private screenings to see the movie on the big screen.
Warner Bros. has greenlit a third “Wonder Woman” film, and Jenkins is also signed on to direct “Star Wars: Rogue Squadron” for Disney.