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'Wonder Woman 1984' to debut both on HBO Max and in theaters

The move by Warner Bros. comes as 50% of U.S. theaters are out of operation and many are still hesitant to go to the movies during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in \"Wonder Woman 1984.\"
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in "Wonder Woman 1984."Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
/ Source: Reuters

"Wonder Woman 1984" is heading to HBO Max and movie theaters on the same day. The superhero sequel, from Warner Bros., is still expected to debut in the U.S. on Christmas Day.

Internationally, where HBO Max is not available, "Wonder Woman 1984" will play in theaters. The exact release date overseas is unknown.

Warner Bros. had been incrementally moving the Gal Gadot-led action adventure numerous times in recent months.

But with 50% of U.S. theaters out of operation, including major moviegoing markets like New York and Los Angeles, and many still hesitant to go to the movies, the studio decided it was too risky to open another $200 million-budgeted film on the big screen in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.

With "Wonder Woman 1984" gone from this year's release calendar, 2020 is officially a wash for movie theater exhibitors. The DC Comics follow-up was the lone potential blockbuster left standing after Bond sequel "No Time to Die," Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" adaptation and Marvel's "Black Widow" were pushed to 2021 and Pixar's "Soul" was relegated to Disney Plus.

Warner Bros. already took a bold bet in launching Christopher Nolan's sci-fi thriller "Tenet" — which also carries a $200 million price tag — in September, marking the first major film to release since the pandemic began.

But instead of kicking off a large-scale return to the movies, "Tenet" scraped together lackluster ticket sales in North America and deterred major studios from debuting high-profile movies while the world continues to grapple with coronavirus. Though "Tenet" had better results at the international box office, the movie is expected to lose many millions.

"Wonder Woman" generated over $800 million globally in 2017 and became a cultural touchstone as one of the rare comic book movies to spotlight a female superhero, solidifying itself as one of Warner Bros.' most important properties.

The sequel has been delayed numerous times amid the pandemic. It was originally scheduled for June 5 before moving to Aug. 14, then Oct. 2 and later Dec. 25.