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& # 39; Surprise Lady 1984 & # 39; might have the very best pandemic opening if HBO Max can't cannibalize ticket gross sales

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Gal Gadot plays Wonder Woman in "Wonder Woman 1984".

Warner bros.

Can a nostalgic superhero movie convince people to leave their couches and go to the cinemas? "Wonder Woman 1984" tries to answer this question.

Cinema owners are confident that the sequel to Wonder Woman, due out on Christmas Day, will attract a major demographic back to theaters despite the continued surge in coronavirus cases.

The ongoing pandemic isn't their only concern, however. The same day that "Wonder Woman 1984" debuted on the big screen, it can also be streamed on HBO Max.

"Wonder Woman 1984" is the first test of a title of this size being published simultaneously on both large and small screen, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

Box office analysts have mixed opinions about how well the film will perform at the home box office. "Wonder Woman 1984" fell short of expectations on its international debut last weekend and grossed around 38.5 million US dollars. That was well below the industry's predicted $ 60 million.

The movie could have even more trouble in the US and Canada when you consider that only around 34% of the theaters are open. That's about 2,000 theaters, reports Comscore.

"It is difficult to place a number on its possible opening weekend as there really is no directly comparable release scenario," said Dergarabedian. "And the biggest opening weekend for cinemas since the pandemic began in mid-March has not even passed the $ 10 million mark."

It is related to "The Croods: A New Age," an animated film by Dreamworks that debuted over Thanksgiving. It had the highest opening of any movie released during the pandemic, just $ 9.7 million. The estimated $ 14.2 million for the entire five-day Thanksgiving weekend.

Still, there is pent-up demand for "Wonder Woman 1984". This could convince moviegoers to go to the big screen instead of watching the movie at home.

"We're seeing 'Wonder Woman 1984' hit the highest advance ticket sales of any movie in the pandemic era, but I'm cautiously leaning towards over 10 million given the number of theater closings, audience caution, and caution US dollars for the weekend a simultaneous streaming release, "said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. "A number closer to $ 15 million could be achievable, but there is a lot of unpredictability that needs to be considered right now."

Robbins said premium screens like IMAX and Dolby Cinema are likely to be among the top performing venues for the sequel as they offer higher quality sound and picture. Private party rentals, where moviegoers rent a theater to a group of up to 20 friends and family members, are also likely to generate a healthy share of the box office.

For the past five years, the box office has generated at least $ 80 million for a single day on Christmas Day. Analysts agree that that number won't be seen this year.

In times without a pandemic, "Wonder Woman 1984" could have opened between $ 100 million and $ 150 million, said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. With so many movie theaters closed, the coronavirus threat looming, and the film available on HBO Max, Pachter forecast an opening of between $ 15 million and $ 25 million.

"While many choose to stay home and watch the movie this vacation, fans and families might find themselves in relatively fair numbers in markets where it is safe and possible, although far from what they are usually for a blockbuster superhero. " Continued opening at Christmas, "said Robbins.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. NBCUniversal owns Dreamworks Animation.

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Steven Gregory