2:37 AM PST 11/20/2020 by Patrick Brzeski
Most U.S. moviegoers will be forced to settle for watching Wonder Woman 1984 at home next month, after Warner Bros. announced earlier this week that it will be releasing the tentpole on HBO Max because of cinema closures caused by the pandemic.
Over in China, however, superhero movie fans will have access to the sequel both sooner and on big screens nationwide. Warner Bros. announced Friday that the film has been set for a full theatrical release in China on Dec. 18.
Wonder Woman 1984 will be the first new Hollywood tentpole to hit Chinese cinemas since Disney's Mulan on Sept. 11. With China already having overtaken North America as the world's biggest box office territory of 2020, the country is all but certain to be Wonder Woman 1984's most important theatrical market. The first Wonder Woman earned $90.5 million in China in 2017.
While the U.S. contends with its worst wave of COVID-19 infection to date, China's movie theater business is booming again thanks to the country's highly effective suppression of the virus. Regulators have capped movie theater attendance at 75 percent as a safety precaution, but that hasn't stopped several locally made blockbusters from pulling in huge results, such as Huayi Brothers' WWII action epic The Eight Hundred, which earned $461 million in August, becoming the biggest worldwide film of the year.
After Wonder Woman 1984 had its release delayed several times, Warner Bros. said on Wednesday that it was all but giving up on a traditional U.S. theatrical rollout and would instead bow the film in whatever North American cinemas happen to remain open on Christmas Day. The film also will be made available simultaneously on HBO Max in the U.S. for one month.
"It wasn't an easy decision and we never thought we'd have to hold on to the release for such a long time but COVID rocked all of our worlds," said star Gal Gadot.
Wonder Woman 1984 reunites Gadot with director Patty Jenkins and is a follow-up to the 2017 blockbuster that earned $821.8 million at the worldwide global box office.