Just like everything else in 2020, movie theaters are struggling.
All major blockbusters that were scheduled to release this year have been pushed back indefinitely to when everything goes back to “normal” and people can safely return to the theaters. Fan-favorites like “Black Widow” and “No Time to Die,” were some of the many films postponed to release in 2021.
All except for one: "Wonder Woman 1984" will be released in movie theaters and HBO Max on Christmas day.
“We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season,” said film director Patty Jenkins on Twitter. “Watch it in theaters, where it is made safe to do so (check out the great work theaters have done to make it so!) and available in the safety of your own home on HBO Max where it is not.”
Jenkins also stated that there are plans to keep the movie in theaters for as long as possible, but no other concrete details have been released on the subject so far.
If the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has taught production companies anything, it's that people greatly value the theater experience.
Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio behind "Wonder Woman," release of "Tenet" in September was met with gravely lackluster sales. While the Christopher Nolan-directed film was highly anticipated, the film made only $29.5 million in the U.S., out of the $200 million made worldwide.
“We believe in theaters because hundreds of millions of fans around the world value going to the movies,” said WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, according to a statement.
The decision for "Wonder Woman 1984" to be released on both in theaters and on a streaming site was met with conflicting opinions from fans. While some were excited to be able to stream the film instead of taking the risk of going to the theaters, some cinema workers expressed how this decision was harmful.
“As a cinema employee it’s really upsetting because (the film) was gonna save us this season, and now it’s worrying if i’ll keep my job,” said Tay, according to Twitter. “It’s so hard. i don’t want anyone to get sick so an option at home is nice but worrying for myself financially is a constant struggle!"
Nonetheless, going to indoor movie theaters is still a high-risk activity that could promote the spread of the virus, according to experts. Therefore, in order for theaters to survive the financial burden of the pandemic, they're going to have change how they operate.
“An optimal movie theater scenario would include no concessions being sold and would have flexible schedules for workers and good sick-leave policies,” said Dr. Annabelle De St. Maurice, according to Los Angeles Times. “So they could stay home when feeling ill, rather than being incentivized to work through it.”
Evidently, the key to safety is making sure employees don't work if they aren't feeling their best. But the pressure to make sales, even during a pandemic, has caught businesses and employees at a crux, a testament to how the capitalist system disregards workers.
"Theaters have been caught between a rock and a hard place," said Shawn Robbins according to CNN Business. "But there needs to be drastically more communication and coordination between local governments and studios before theaters can confidently resume full-time operations. There is no perfect blueprint, but what's been done so far hasn't been enough."
As of now, no one knows for sure what’s going to happen in the coming months with the trajectory of the pandemic. We can hope that things go back to normal soon, but from the looks of it, that’s not very likely. Ultimately, movie theaters (and us, as moviegoers) to survive, are going to have to adapt to safety restrictions.
Personally, I applaud Warner Bros. Pictures and Jenkins for deciding to release the film on both theaters and streaming. I've been looking forward to "Wonder Woman 1984," and I'm glad I don't have to risk my health to enjoy it.
Hopefully, once things truly go back to normal and COVID-19 is no longer something to worry about, we can all safely watch "Wonder Woman 1984" and other films on the big screen. After all, people will always want the movie-watching experience — it’s irreplaceable. But for now, public safety is top priority!