Wonder Woman 1984 HBO Max debut could leave theaters hanging

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected many businesses but some have been hit harder than others. Those that rely on mass gathering of people, like resorts, cruises, hotels, and theaters have seen business plummet or even disappear completely. For the theater industry, it's a double whammy with streaming services starting to eat up whatever little they have left. Warner Bros.'s decision to stream Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max on the same day it hits theaters will undoubtedly hit US theaters where it hurts the most.

Finally putting doubts and fears to rest, Warner Bros. revealed that the long-awaited and much-delayed sequel to the box office superhero hit will be premiering on December 25 at long last. That's at least the date for US theaters who are hoping it would help revive an ailing industry or at least keep it on life support a bit longer. And then the sucker punch came: Wonder Woman 1984 will also debut on HBO Max on that same date, streaming to subscribers with no extra charge for a month.

On the one hand, this is Warner Bros. throwing theaters a bone. It could have decided to just skip theaters completely, using the movie as a strategy to get more subscribers for the streaming service. On the other hand, it can't ignore the fact that not everyone wants to be an HBO Max customer, especially in markets where the service isn't available anyway. Wonder Woman 1984 will premiere in international theaters a week earlier on December 16.

This situation is pretty much the new normal for the entertainment industry that is struggling to come to terms with the consequences of the pandemic. Theaters continue to struggle to make ends meet even as they implement measures to ensure the safety of their customers. Many moviegoers, on the other hand, remain apprehensive and are more likely to resort to streaming services or other sources if given a choice.

Wonder Woman 1984 takes place during the Cold War, decades after the first film's timeline. It sees the mysterious return of lover Steve Trevor and new enemies Maxwell Lord and Cheetah. The sequel to the 2017 blockbuster was expected to earn over $1 billion in ticket sales earlier this year, a number that will definitely be slashed significantly when it finally hits theaters next month.