Wonder Woman 1984 held on to 55% of its box-office from last weekend; grabbing $3M more for a running total of $32.6M. This is the 17th day the film has been in theaters, meaning there are only 2 weeks left before the film leaves HBO Max and plays exclusively in theaters for 30 days after. So how is that going? As Deadline reports, “if there was something awesome to shout out to the world about WW1984’s success on HBO Max… we would have already heard about it.” Still, we should expect an update on the numbers during the next AT&T earnings call (expected Jan 27th).
Warner is not the only studio who strayed from traditional theatrical windows, but their unilateral decision for a day-and-date HBO Max model drew backlash from theaters, directors and talent. The studio settled on bonuses for Patty Jenkins, Kristen Wiig, and Gal Gadot for WW1984 – and is reportedly attempting similar negotiations with the cast of Dune. Director Denis Villeneuve has been backed by production company, Legendary Pictures, in his desire for an exclusive theatrical release. If granted, it could set precedent for other films to be taken off the HBO Max model. For example, Lana Wachowski, director of the upcoming Matrix 4 film, is said to be adamant about an exclusive theatrical run.
Exhibitors and rival distributors speculate that Warner’s strategy will be harder to maintain as the year develops, and not only because there will be more wide-release titles from other studios. If the U.S can manage a more effective response to the pandemic by the summer, analysts are hopeful for a bounce-back not unlike that we’ve seen in other countries. Japan, China, South Korea, and Australia – all countries where Covid cases have dropped significantly – are seeing robust box office recoveries. Japan, a country with a third of the U.S population, has had fewer than 300,000 coronavirus cases and only saw its box office fall 46% in 2020. In contrast, the U.S just hit 21.6M cases and experienced a 80% drop in box office.
“No doubt the road back to a normal big screen marketplace will take a lot of time and loads of patience,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “But the lessons learned by the example of countries that have bounced back strongly over the past many months show that a well-managed Covid response and appealing new movies can together provide the spark to ignite box office prosperity now and in the future.”
And 2021 certainly does not lack appealing new movies – I mean, many of them are titles that moviegoers highly anticipated in 2020! Although we kick things off slow with The Marksman coming to theaters this Friday, Jan 15th, movies with bigger fanfare are not too far away.