HBO Max's 'Wonder Woman 1984' audience helps fast-track a sequel

Millions of subscribers watched 'WW84' on opening day.

Warner Bros.

There’s little doubt that WarnerMedia had high hopes for Wonder Woman 1984’s simultaneous debut on HBO Max and in theaters, and that trust appears to have been well-placed. Warner Bros. is fast-tracking development of Wonder Woman 3 based on both its relative success at the pandemic-struck box office ($16.7 million in the US) and its HBO Max turnout. The media giant was unsurprisingly shy on exact numbers, but made clear that WW84 was a big help for its fledgling streaming service.

Nearly half of all “retail” HBO Max subscribers (that is, people paying $15 per month) watched the superhero movie on opening day, WarnerMedia said. There were also “millions” of bundle customers who used their cable or phone subscriptions to watch. Viewing hours on Christmas Day more than tripled the average in November.

The movie will only be available on HBO Max for a month. It’s currently available as a high-priced rental in the UK, Canada and other countries where Max isn’t an option.

The WW84 viewership and accelerated work on Wonder Woman 3 aren’t surprising. Most US movie theaters are closed due to COVID-19, and the holiday would have left many people at home regardless. Much like Pixar’s Soul, Wonder Woman had a large potential audience that couldn’t visit family or otherwise mark the holidays as usual. Still, this could help WarnerMedia justify its decision to stream all its 2021 movies on HBO Max — it could keep people subscribed well after the novelty wears off, at least until it’s truly safe to return to theaters.