Reopening theaters in 2020 was always going to be a delicate operation. The coronavirus pandemic is ongoing, and many experts have opined that going to the movies is not necessarily a safe activity, even with a mask. At the same time, theaters are losing money hand over fist. Production studio executives are seemingly desperate to start releasing some of their films, if for no other reason than the backlog is becoming untenable. But with Tenet box office numbers proving audiences are not showing up, Warner Brothers is bowing to the inevitable once more, and moving the Wonder Woman 1984 premiere date to Christmas 2020.
Tenet was supposed to be the first big blockbuster welcoming audiences back to movies when it arrived on Sept. 4, 2020. But despite reports insisting people were eager to return to the movies, and protests demanding businesses reopen so the world can return to normal, the box office numbers showed differently. Box Office Mojo reported Tenet‘s opening weekend haul was all of $20 million domestically. It’s a number that would be a respectable opening for a small arthouse indie film, but pretty darn dismal for a movie made on a $200 million production budget.
The drop from the first to the second weekend in theaters was worse, as Tenet took in all of $6.7 million on a weekend when there was zero competition from significant new releases. Unfortunately, that’s all viewers know, as Warner Brothers is currently only releasing selective numbers from the daily ticket sales, suggesting the full picture is far worse.
Americans have spoken with their wallets, and Warner Brothers has heard them. Rather than let Wonder Woman 1984 run into the same issue when it was scheduled to arrive on Oct. 1, the movie has been rescheduled again to Dec. 25, 2020.
On the one hand, this is a prime location for film releases. Americans go to the movies on Christmas week more than any other time of year. (Though the first weekend in May is also a significant weekend, mostly due to Marvel’s release schedule.) Warner is pinning hopes that, despite the pandemic, this tradition will hold, as it’s also keeping Dune on the schedule for Dec. 18, 2020, which would give the studio two significant blockbusters that weekend.
That being said, nothing else about this year has been traditional. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said in an interview that even if a vaccine arrives by the end of 2020, it will most likely be a full year before it’s safe to go to the movies. Moreover, while drive-in theaters are currently an option while the weather is warm, most will have shut down for the winter by Christmas. It remains to be seen if audiences are willing to come in from the cold to see their favorite superheroes.
Wonder Woman 1984 is currently scheduled to arrive on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2020.
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