Gal Gadot stars in “Wonder Woman 1984.”
Warner Bros. has once again postponed the release of “Wonder Woman 1984.” The superhero flick starring Gal Gadot will now debut on Christmas Day.
For days, media outlets had speculated that the film would uproot from its Oct. 2 release date for a slot later in the year. The return to movie theaters, led by “Tenet,” hasn’t been quite as robust as the industry had hoped, with U.S. moviegoers, in particular, hesitant to return to cinemas.
On Sunday, Warner Bros. said “Tenet” had garnered $20 million during its Labor Day weekend debut, but that figure included preview screenings from the four days leading up to its release. That means the film likely only made between $10 million and $12 million over the weekend, according to a report by BoxOffice.com.
Additionally, it is still unclear how many theaters will be open by October. Last weekend, only around 65% of cinemas were operating in the U.S., each with a cap on attendance of between 30% and 50%. Important markets including New York and Los Angeles also remain closed.
“The movement of ‘Wonder Woman’ to December shows that Warner Bros. remains committed to the theatrical experience while simultaneously negotiating the choppy waters of an ever changing and dynamic marketplace,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
“Frequent release date changes are now the norm and certainly understandable given the uncertainty the pandemic has placed upon movie theaters and their ability (and capacity) to be open to moviegoers,” he added.
With “Wonder Woman” gone from the calendar, the next big blockbuster tentpole won’t arrive in theaters until November. “Black Widow,” part of Disney’s collection of Marvel films, is set to debut Nov. 6.
On Friday, shares of Marcus Corp were down nearly 7%, IMAX shares were down 7%, Cinemark fell 6% and AMC fell 4%.
Moving to December
Warner Bros. is no stranger to holiday box office success. “Aquaman,” released in December 2018, garnered more than $1 billion during its run in theaters.
The week before Christmas, “West Side Story,” “Coming 2 America” and “Dune” are slated to arrive, but there is little competition for “Wonder Woman” during the holiday weekend. “Dune” is also a Warner Bros. title, so it’s possible that film could be pushed into 2021.
Still, pushing the film to December is not without its own set of risks. Some public health officials anticipate that the number of coronavirus cases could surge again during the winter months.
Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 35,200 new cases per day, down more than 12% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data.
While the number of daily new cases is far lower than the peak, the country is still reporting a worrying level of new infections, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s coronavirus advisor, said Friday. Not to mention the country is still reporting about 850 new deaths, on average, every day, according to Hopkins data.