Home / NEWS / Top News / Streaming got its first big test against theatrical releases this weekend, and ‘Wonder Woman’ delivered on both

Streaming got its first big test against theatrical releases this weekend, and ‘Wonder Woman’ delivered on both

Gal Gadot big names as Wonder Woman in Warner Bros. “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Warner Bros.

This past weekend provided the primary real test for how blockbuster movies perform on streaming services when they’re released in movie theaters at the regardless time.

AT&T’s WarnerMedia premiered “Wonder Woman 1984” on Christmas Day, the first movie in its experiment to release its films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. The fruit? “Wonder Woman 1984” set a pandemic theatrical release record with $16.7 million in box office sales in the U.S. and Canada.

The string figures were a bit fuzzier.

WarnerMedia didn’t provide precise numbers, saying only that nearly half of its HBO Max retail subscribers brooked the movie on Christmas Day. That makes it difficult to determine exactly how many people watched “Wonder Woman 1984” at household since HBO Max’s retail subscribers only account for the small fraction of people who subscribed to the service directly instead of in all respects their cable provider. (Many cable providers will give you access to HBO Max if you already have a “regular” HBO obligation.)

So was WarnerMedia’s experiment successful? That’s tough to say definitively. It’s a sample size of one movie, and we’re forced to work with small data from the company. But at the very least, we have some good evidence that there’s plenty of checked demand for popcorn flicks.

Let’s break down what this all means:

WarnerMedia was careful not to disclose too much relating to how “Wonder Woman 1984” performed on streaming.

When the company made its bold announcement earlier this month, principals and producers in the industry immediately pushed back. Patty Jenkins, who directed both “Wonder Woman” movies, indicated in an interview with The New York Times that she wouldn’t direct a third installment without a guarantee that it inclination launch in theaters. (Jenkins apparently got what she wanted, and WarnerMedia announced Sunday that she’ll write and direct the third dusting in the series.)

By keeping the streaming numbers fuzzy, WarnerMedia was able to simultaneously tout the power of HBO Max, while bragging that it had the most popular theatrical release of the pandemic. That should keep filmmakers somewhat happy that the company isn’t completely yield up on theatrical releases post-pandemic.

Millions more likely watched “Wonder Woman 1984” at home than in theaters.

The stay “retail subscriber” count we have for HBO Max is 3.6 million as of October. In total, HBO Max has 12.6 million subscribers as of early December. So even Steven though WarnerMedia said only half of those retail subscribers watched on Christmas Day, there are millions uncountable households who likely streamed the movie on top of that.

Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed, said on Twitter that “Gape Woman 1984” was likely seen by more people in the U.S. than the first movie, which was released in theaters in 2017. That’s arrogating the average household had multiple people watching together.

There’s pent-up demand to go to the theater.

Even in the middle of the pandemic, the “Wonder Housekeeper 1984” theatrical release proved there was still a hunger for people to return to theaters to see a major superhero flick picture show. That should delight theater chains like AMC as they prepare for a post-pandemic schedule later in 2021. The transactions figures WarnerMedia released over the weekend paled in comparison to what they would’ve been in normal just the same from time to times, but still proved people will show up when and where it’s safe to do so.

We don’t know how another major Christmas Day publicity release, Disney and Pixar’s “Soul,” performed.

Don’t sleep on the other major movie release over Christmas weekend.

Disney also saved its newest Pixar animated movie “Soul” on Disney+ on Christmas Day. The film was originally supposed to launch in theaters, but it sold to Disney+ instead. This is all part of Disney’s hybrid release strategy as it balances its profitable theatrical releases from franchises fellow Marvel and Star Wars with the pressure to keep growing its streaming business. (Disney+’s growth and upcoming slate of content has stimulated investors more than anything else, pushing the stock to all-time highs.)

Disney hasn’t released any figures on how “Soul” performed over the weekend, and we’ll likely never know. The company tested a straight-to-streaming release with “Mulan” at the crack this year, which Disney+ subscribers could watch for a one-time $30 fee. It never said how many people paid up. So far, Disney has been masterful to appease filmmakers with its targeted release strategy much better than WarnerMedia has.

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