After weeks of rumors, a leaked trailer has let the golden lasso out of the bag: Warner Bros. Pictures’ oft-delayed film Wonder Woman 1984 has finally conceded to the pandemic with a massive digital launch plan.
The film’s December 25 launch date had been previously announced after being bumped out of June, then once again out of October. That Christmas launch date remains fixed for theaters around the world—including those in the United States that remain open in the face of rising COVID-19 contraction rates. The news today is that HBO Max, which currently operates exclusively in North America, will additionally serve the film on the same day—and without charging existing subscribers any extra fee on top of its $14.99/mo rate.
This plan differs from Disney’s September launch of its live-action Mulan remake, which was restricted to theaters in countries without the paid Disney+ subscription service. In territories with Disney+, on the other hand, subscribers could pay a one-time fee of $30 to access the film for unlimited viewing, or wait until December 4 to access the film as part of the standard Disney+ $7.99/mo service.
Wednesday’s Wonder Woman 1984 news came once fans discovered an unlisted YouTube video advertising the change, which DC Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures uploaded without password protection before taking it down as word spread. Fans were quick to grab an image of the advertisement’s final screen, confirming a December 25 launch for both theaters and “HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers.” Though the video remains hidden as of press time, outlets like Variety and Deadline immediately moved forward with their own confirmations that the news is legit—and follows theater operators being told the news.
Shortly after those reports went live, WW84 director Patty Jenkins offered her own statement via social media:
The time has come. 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 HBO Max where it is not. Happy holidays to all of you. We hope you enjoy our film as much as we enjoyed making it.
That sets up arguably the largest streaming-film launch face-off we’ve ever seen, with Disney-Pixar’s animated film Soul launching on Disney+ the same day. (It, too, eschews the Mulan model, coming as part of standard Disney+ subscriptions.)