Wonder Woman 1984 is delaying its release again, this time from Oct. 2 to Dec. 25 as the U.S. box office struggles to recover amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
The shift doesn’t impact the Dec. 18 date for Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune, which Warner Bros. is releasing on behalf of Legendary.
Wonder Woman‘s delay is a major blow for theater owners, since there now won’t be a new Hollywood tentpole hitting the big screen until November.
Warner insiders say they reached the decision amid the ongoing uncertainty as to when cinemas in such major markets such as New York City and Los Angeles will reopen. As of now, about 35 percent of the domestic marketplace remains dark in terms of moviegoing.
One advantage of moving Wonder Woman 1984: it gives fellow Warners event pic Tenet, from filmmaker Christopher Nolan, more time to expand its audience as cinemas continue to reopen across the country. Both films cost in the $200 million range to produce before marketing, meaning they need to do many hundreds of millions to land in the black.
Insiders say Warners began debating whether to move Wonder Woman 1984 long before Tenet finally unfurled in the first major test of the appetite for moviegoing in the COVID-19 era. Also, the Christmas corridor was incredibly lucrative for 2018 DC pic Aquaman.
Tenet officially opened Sept. 3 where it could in the U.S. (New York City and Los Angeles are among the key markets still closed). The $200 million espionage epic took in an estimated $20 million in its debut, including weekday grosses and prior weekend earnings in Canada, according to Warners.
Tenet is faring much better overseas, where it has cleared nearly $150 million to date. Generally speaking, the international box office is further along in terms of a recovery.
Wonder Woman 1984 reunites director Patty Jenkins with star Gal Gadot, and is a follow-up to the 2017 blockbuster that earned more than $820 million at the global box office, and launched a new franchise for DC and Warners.
“First and foremost let me say how much Gal and I love all our devoted Wonder Woman fans around the world, and your excitement for WW84 couldn’t make us happier or more eager for you to see the movie,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Because I know how important it is to bring this movie to you on a big screen when all of us can share the experience together, I’m hopeful you won’t mind waiting just a little bit longer. With the new date on Christmas Day, we can’t wait to spend the holidays with you!”
Added Warners film chairman Toby Emmerich, “Patty is an exceptional filmmaker and with Wonder Woman 1984 she has delivered an incredibly dynamic film that moviegoers of all ages around the world will absolutely love.”
Jenkins‘ sequel was supposed to hit the big screen in early June, and then in mid-August. Next it was pushed to October.
Hollywood had been hopeful that the fall would see the box office normalize, but a surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the summer has delayed theater openings in a number of top markets.
There are rumors that Disney and Marvel‘s Black Widow could vacate its Nov. 6 release date because of concerns over the state of the box office. One event pic that’s determined to stay on the calendar so far is MGM‘s James Bond installment No Time to Die, set for Nov. 20.