'Wonder Woman 1984' Box Office Strong Enough to Help Movie Theater Stocks, But Theaters Aren't Out of the Woods Yet

Wonder Woman 1984 hit HBO Max on Christmas Day, but it also opened in theaters. This means for the first time in a while we have some box office numbers for a big studio movie, and guess what? Those numbers aren’t too shabby! To be clear, Wonder Woman 1984‘s opening weekend box office haul would be a disappointment in a normal year, but this isn’t a normal year. At the moment, Wonder Woman 1984 is looking at a $17 million domestic opening – good enough to bolster movie theater stocks. But there’s still a long way to go.

As we’ve already reported, the numbers for Wonder Woman 1984 at the box office and on HBO Max were good enough to have Warner Bros. pull the trigger on Wonder Woman 3. HBO Max says nearly half of their subscribers viewed Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day, while the box office haul at the moment (according to Box Office Mojo) is $16,700,000.

Now, if this were a normal year, a big franchise film making only around $17 million on its opening weekend would be a disaster (for reference, last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opened with $177 million domestically). But since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and not all movie theaters are up and running, the Wonder Woman 1984 box office haul is respectable. In fact, Forbes reports that the film had the “biggest post-pandemic opening yet” and added that “it’s the first $10 million-plus opening weekend since Pixar’s Onward in early March.”

I suppose the bigger question to ask here is: would Wonder Woman 1984 have an even better opening weekend haul if Warner Bros. hadn’t decided to release it directly to HBO Max as well? There’s no surefire way to know, but I’m sure folks at WB are already asking that question in relation to their decision to release their upcoming 2021 slate directly to HBO Max.

Meanwhile, Deadline is reporting that the better-than-expected box office for the film lead to shares in Cinemark, Imax, Marcus Corp., and National CineMedia rising “between 3% and 7% apiece after the sequel took in $16.7 million domestically, the best bow by any film during the coronavirus pandemic.” However it wasn’t all roses and sunshine for exhibitors, since AMC “dropped 5% on ongoing investor concern about its liquidity and a potential bankruptcy filing” and that “AMC shares are at their lowest point since early November.” The stock market is an impenetrable mystery to me, but I’m guessing that’s bad.

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