Warner Media announced last night that Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to the 2017 smash, Wonder Woman, will premiere  Christmas day simultaneously on HBO Max and in movie theaters.

The film will be available for one month on HBO Max at no extra charge to the streaming service’s subscribers. HBO Max, an expanded version of HBO, costs $14.99 a month.

The unusual pairing of a streaming and theatrical debut for a blockbuster film such as Wonder Woman 1984 is necessitated by two factors:

1. The Coronavirus pandemic has rendered movie theaters near ghost towns with most Americans unwilling to risk catching the virus to watch a two-hour film.

2. AT&T, which owns Warner Media, and HBO Max, is under great pressure to make HBO Max a huge success. The service launched on May 27, but badly trails rivals such as Netflix and Disney+ in subscribers. HBO Max’s slow climb is due in part to not being on the nation’s two leading streaming devices, Roku and Amazon Fire TV, due to carriage disputes. However, Amazon this week agreed to add HBO Max to its Fire TV products, and Wonder Woman 1984 could pressure Roku to do the same in the next month.

“As we navigate these unprecedented times, we’ve had to be innovative in keeping our businesses moving forward while continuing to super-serve our fans,” Ann Sarnoff, chairwoman and CE Of Warner Media Studios, said in a statement. This is an amazing film that really comes to life on the big screen and, working with our partners in the exhibition community, we will provide that option to consumers in the U.S. where theaters are open. We realize that a lot of consumers can’t go back to the movies due to the pandemic, so we also want to give them the option to see Wonder Woman 1984 via our HBO Max platform.”

Wonder Woman 1984, which returns Gal Gadot in the title role, will feature the superheroine opposing foes and former friends turned foes. Chris Pine will also return as Wonder Woman’s love interest and the cast also includes Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal and Robin Wright.

The movie was originally scheduled to open in theaters in June, but was postponed due to the pandemic.

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