The decision to release films such as “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day has been a hot button issue amongst film fans and those working in the industry. While there are fans and filmmakers that worry about the future of the theatrical experience, you have business-minded folks that understand there needs to be content released and films don’t make money when they’re sitting on the shelf. Whatever side of the argument you fall on, one thing is for sure—in terms of HBO Max viewership, the release of “Wonder Woman 1984” has been a big success.
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In a new report from Nielsen about the number of minutes that people spent watching “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max (via THR), not only was the film a success, it had more eyes on it than Disney’s recent release of “Soul,” both of which hit streaming on Christmas Day. According to Nielsen, for the week of December 21 to 27 (‘WW84’ arrives on December 25), the Warner Bros. superhero sequel earned 2.25 billion minutes watched on HBO Max. That’s 580 million more minutes than “Soul” earned on Disney+. While “minutes watched” doesn’t necessarily equal “views,” it is the rough equivalent of 14.9 million complete plays of the 151-minute film. Not too shabby, at all.
As you might expect, the release of these viewing numbers is something that makes the executives at HBO Max very happy.
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“The impact of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ on HBO Max cannot be understated,” said HBO Max executive VP and general manager Andy Forssell. “As was announced on Wednesday during our earnings and as this Nielsen data shows, it was a huge holiday gift to the consumer at a time when they wanted and needed it. This partnership with Warner Bros. of course continues throughout the year but it began with ‘Wonder Woman’s’ arrival on Christmas Day to great success.”
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Obviously, it’s far too early to call this Warner Bros/HBO Max release strategy a complete success. Not only has the box office for ‘WW84’ been incredibly low due to the fact that many theaters in North America remain closed and also because of the fact that people decided to stay home and watch the movie, but this superhero sequel was always expected to be a big hit. The real test is when something like “The Little Things” debuts on HBO Max and in theaters this weekend. Will a mid-budget adult thriller featuring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto put up impressive numbers and drive subscriptions for HBO Max? We’ll have to wait and see.
But for now, at least the folks at WarnerMedia can celebrate a big debut for “Wonder Woman 1984.” Also, if you haven’t watched ‘WW84’ yet, you missed out on the first 30 days on HBO Max but it will eventually head back to the streaming service.