According to a report published by The Wrap, there have been high-level discussions about WB releasing Wonder Woman 1984 straight to consumers via VOD, as opposed to its June 5 release date. This rumor comes as the growing coronavirus pandemic has shut theaters down across North America and the rest of the planet, and it suggests there have been “preliminary” discussions held by Toby Emmerich, Warner Pictures Group chairman, and his top advisers. Additionally, these conversations were allegedly kept from director Patty Jenkins and producer Charles Roven.
However, studio executives and filmmakers have emphatically refuted the suggestion, including to The Wrap.
Jeff Goldstein, Warner president of domestic distribution, is quoted as saying, “We’re looking to release the movie theatrically, that’s our plan.” Roven also more keenly observed that it would be “ludicrous” for a movie this big to be released on streaming.
All of this matches an insider close to the movie, who told Den of Geek there’s zero truth to The Wrap’s story about putting Wonder Woman 1984 on VOD. Some might think this is studio spin, but we’re inclined to believe our sources that even if the studio is likely considering a change of release date, VOD is a nonstarter. Obviously things are moving quickly since Universal Pictures made history on Monday by announcing The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma. would be going to VOD, with studios including WB and Disney following suit with other recent releases. However, the only major studio film to announce an unreleased project would be moving from a theatrical window to a VOD one is Universal’s Trolls: World Tour.
While that film is a sequel to a profitable hit from 2016, Trolls is not Wonder Woman, nor is its sequel the $200 million-budgeted tent pole that a studio’s fiscal year is built around. The most interesting element in The Wrap’s report claims Patty Jenkins is lobbying for Wonder Woman 1984 to be delayed until August 2020. This seems more plausible as major studio releases in May continue to get pushed, including Disney’s Black Widow, and President Donald Trump recently said the COVID-19 crisis is looking to go until July or August, if not longer.
However, putting an actual month on it might also appear premature for the fact that, well, it could go longer. Nevertheless, even as VOD likely becomes preferable for studios’ smaller or more midlevel films, like Trolls: World Tour, the $200-$300 million budgeted blockbusters remain unlikely to go to VOD unless the situation changes drastically. Universal might’ve put their DreamWorks Animation sequel on VOD, but they also notably moved the blockbuster F9 to April 2021, suggesting the intent is still to save franchises with major global box office ambitions for the theaters.
For what it’s worth, The Wrap also claims WB is considering a “straight to the consumer” VOD release for Wonder Woman 1984, as opposed to premiering on HBO Max. While we are again skeptical of the rumor as a whole, this is the most believable rollout for a major blockbuster, or indeed most studio movies. While the endgame of studios developing their own streaming platforms like WB’s HBO Max or Disney’s Disney+ is to be able to eventually mimic the Netflix business model of releasing all major content directly to loyal subscribers, for the time being studios are still built around generating revenue per admission, which the VOD model more closely resembles. This only becomes truer the more expensive a film is. Consider that Disney elected to put Onward on VOD via Fandango for two weeks, as opposed to straight to Disney+.
Mind you the best Disney comparison for Wonder Woman is Black Widow, which isn’t going to VOD or Disney+ anytime soon…
You can read more about Wonder Woman 1984, which is still technically slated for June 4, right here.