Wonder Woman 1984’s opening weekend box office led to a boost in movie theater stocks. After being delayed multiple times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the highly-anticipated DC Extended Universe sequel finally released in the U.S. on Christmas Day. In addition to playing in theaters in areas where they’re open, Wonder Woman 1984 also streamed on HBO Max, being watched by half of the service’s subscribers on the first day. The film’s domestic rollout followed its international premiere, where Wonder Woman 1984 did worse than expected at the box office.
Many were curious to see how Wonder Woman 1984 would perform commercially. Not only was it playing in fewer theaters than Tenet, the fact it was streaming on HBO Max meant people could safely watch it from home. As new COVID-19 cases continue to spike, many viewers still feel unsafe going to the movie theater. Still, the allure of seeing Diana Prince’s latest adventure on the big screen was too good to pass up for some, and Wonder Woman 1984 grossed a strong $16.7 million in its opening weekend. That seems to be having a positive impact on the film industry.
According to Deadline, movie theater stocks increased following Wonder Woman 1984’s debut. Cinemark reached their highest mark since June, rising 7 percent. IMAX, Marcus Corp., and National CineMedia were also up between 4 and 7 percent. AMC, which has gone through a very tough time financially in 2020 (fearing it may run out of cash in early 2021), got to their “break-even point.” Cineworld saw a 1 percent boost.
This development is a welcome bit of good news for movie theaters, which were hit particularly hard during the pandemic. Between theaters remaining closed in key markets, stay-at-home orders, and people exhibiting caution by avoiding the multiplex, the box office was down considerably in 2020. There’s hope things will improve in 2021, especially with the promise of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, there’s still a long way to go, as medical experts have cautioned it’ll likely be a year post-vaccine before movie theaters are truly safe again. It’ll be interesting to see how things progress next year. Even though studios are committed to the theatrical experience, they’re keeping their options open. Warner Bros. is releasing their entire 2021 slate on HBO Max the same day as theaters, and Marvel is reportedly making preparations in case their movies go to Disney+.
Wonder Woman 1984’s box office indicates audiences are still interested in seeing big blockbusters on the big screen, even when they’re available to watch at home. This implies that when theaters become safer after the pandemic is over, there could be a return to normalcy and the box office sees the numbers it was accustomed to before COVID. There’s a reason why WB says their HBO Max release strategy is for 2021 only (for now, anyway). It’s telling that the studio made a point to say newly-announced projects like Furiosa and Wonder Woman 3 are getting theatrical releases, with no mention of HBO Max. Everyone is hopeful movie theaters will truly be back up and running soon.
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