Could Wonder Woman 1984 forgo a standard theatrical release?
The world was already skewing to a streaming-centric society. We’ve seen a lot of content move from cable to streaming over the past several years, and we’ve also seen relatively quick turnaround from theater to home release. It was inevitable that we would get to a point where we could get to a day-and-date release. With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on the film industry, studios are pivoting to try and get as much from their movies as humanly possible. We know that Trolls: World Tour is getting a digital release on its theatrical release date, but there may be an even bigger movie getting the same treatment.
According to TheWrap, Wonder Woman 1984, one of Warner Bros. biggest tentpole films of the year, is actually considering bypassing theaters altogether. This is in favor of a direct-to-streaming format, two sources told the outlet.
But don’t get too excited just yet. As of right now, the discussions are preliminary and have only included execs at the highest level. Translation: not even director Patty Jenkins or producer Charles Roven have been brought in to discuss this thing. That being said, the fact that these discussions are happening is interesting.
All this being said, it is definitely preferred by the studio that the film get a theatrical release. However, with the film’s June release date fast approaching and there being no knowing the path the pandemic will ultimately take, they are keeping their options open. The current path they are considering is more of a VOD format — kind of like what Trolls: World Tour, The Hunt, and The Invisible Man are doing — which go for $20 for a 48-hour rental. This would be as opposed to it being released on the HBO Max streaming service.
Of course, one big issue is that Wonder Woman 1984 features a hefty $200 million-ish price tag. As of right now, studios simply don’t have enough data to know whether or not it’s possible to make a film with that budget profitable. The report goes on to say that Jenkins and Roven prefer an August release date, but with no one knowing what the future holds for the U.S. exhibitor industry.
It’s also worth noting that the studio’s president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein flat-out told the outlet that they were wrong, and Roven said:
“It’s ludicrous if you consider how big a movie this is,” he said in an interview. “Everybody recognizes that, as interesting as streaming might be, if you want a huge, global worldwide box office, you’ve got to release it in a movie theater.”
It’s certainly a challenge. An analysis by Lightshed’s Rich Greenfield pointed to it being very difficult for traditional VOD to bring in the kind of money that theaters do. That being said, we’ve never lived in a world where a legitimate tentpole film was exclusively available on VOD, so it’d be hard to tell. But Greenfield stated that hitting the equivalent of $1 billion would require 16 to 21 million downloads if studios were to charge $30 to $40 per movie. So, if they plan on shooting for $20, they’d need to sell a heck of a lot more downloads in order to hit that high benchmark.
What do you think of all this? Do you see a path to a billion dollars using VOD? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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