Hollywood studios are in uncharted waters. Cinemas stayed open throughout two World Wars and any number of social cataclysms. But Coronavirus has done what they couldn’t. Most domestic cinema chains have shut down for the foreseeable future, and many foreign countries have followed the same model. So what does this mean for the year’s biggest movies? Well, the first reaction was to postpone their releases. Pretty much every major upcoming pic has been impacted, with tentpoles like Black Widow now without a release date. And it’s looking like many others may be released straight to digital, too.
Perhaps the biggest movie being considered for this is Wonder Woman 1984, currently still scheduled for a June 4th release. Warner Bros.’ sequel to the hit 2017 pic has already been delayed six months from its November 2019 release date, and now inside sources are saying that Warner Pictures chair Toby Emmerich is exploring pushing the film straight-to-digital.
The story comes via Sharon Waxman and Beatrice Verhoeven at The Wrap, who say that high-level discussions are taking place at the studio as they try to figure out the best course of action. Word is that their first preference is still a theatrical release, but they cannot know how long cinemas will remain closed. As such, they’re currently eyeing a new August release date, but there’s a lack of favorable dates. And so, they’re beginning to at least consider releasing it on HBO Max.
Warner Bros. denies this, however, with President of Domestic Distribution Jeff Goldstein saying:
“We’re looking to release the movie theatrically, that’s our plan.”
Wonder Woman 1984 producer Charles Roven, meanwhile, agrees, saying:
“It’s ludicrous if you consider how big a movie this is. 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.”
But what if there aren’t any movie theaters to release it into? The global situation is constantly changing, and I’m betting major studios will soon have to make some decisions that they wouldn’t have dreamed of even a month ago.