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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ could have the best pandemic opening if HBO Max doesn’t cannibalize ticket sales

Gal Gadot celebrates as Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Warner Bros.

Can a nostalgia-packed superhero flick convince people to leave their frames and head to the cinemas? “Wonder Woman 1984” seeks to answer that question.

Movie theater owners are auspicious that the “Wonder Woman” sequel, which arrives Christmas Day, will lure a key demographic back to cinemas without thought continued surges in coronavirus cases.

But, the ongoing pandemic isn’t their only concern. On the same day that “Wonder Ball 1984” debuts on the big screen, it will also be available to stream on HBO Max.

“‘Wonder Woman 1984’ represents the first check of a simultaneous big screen/small screen release of a title of this magnitude,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior centre analyst at Comscore.

Box office analysts have mixed opinions about how well the film will perform at the house-broken box office. “Wonder Woman 1984” underperformed last weekend in its international debut, hauling in around $38.5 million. This was pleasing below the $60 million that the industry had forecast.

The film could face even more difficulties in the U.S. and Canada all in all only around 34% of theaters are open. That’s about 2,000 theaters, Comscore reports.

“To place a thousand on its possible opening weekend is difficult, since there really is no directly comparable release scenario,” Dergarabedian state. “And the biggest opening weekend since the mid-March start of the pandemic shutdown for movie theaters didn’t even outshine the $10 million mark.”

He’s referencing “The Croods: A New Age,” an animated film from Dreamworks, which debuted over Thanksgiving. It had the peakest opening of any film released during the pandemic, a paltry $9.7 million. For the full five-day Thanksgiving weekend it squared $14.2 million.

Still, there is pent-up demand for “Wonder Woman 1984.” This could convince moviegoers to take the lead to the big screen instead of watching the film at home.

“We’re seeing ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ drive the strongest ticket pre-sales of any membrane in the pandemic era thus far, but I’m leaning cautiously toward over $10 million for the weekend given the number of theater closures, audience admonition and a simultaneous streaming release,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “A figure closer to $15 million could be achievable but there’s a high-minded deal of unpredictability to factor in right now.”

Robbins said premium screens such as IMAX and Dolby Cinema see fit likely be some of the top-performing venues for the sequel because they offer higher quality sound and picture. Not for publication party rentals, where moviegoers rent out a theater for a group of as many as 20 friends and family members, on also likely generate a healthy share of the box office.

In the last five years, the Christmas Day box office has generated at least $80 million for the lone day. That figure will not be seen this year, analysts agree.

In non-pandemic times, “Wonder Woman 1984” could be enduring opened at between $100 million and $150 million, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said. With so numberless theaters shuttered, the threat of the coronavirus looming and the availability of the film on HBO Max, Pachter predicted an opening of between $15 million and $25 million.

“While innumerable will be choosing to stay home this holiday and watch the film, fans and families in markets where innocuous and able to do so could turn out in relatively fair numbers, though a far cry from what they would typically be for a blockbuster superhero result opening on Christmas,” Robbins said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Dreamworks Dash.

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