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'Wonder Woman 1984' to debut in theaters and on HBO Max

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in a scene from "Wonder Woman 1984."  Credit: AP/Clay Enos

"Wonder Woman 1984" isn’t skipping theaters or moving to 2021, but it is altering course. The last big blockbuster holdout of 2020 is still opening in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day but it will also be made available to HBO Max subscribers free of charge for its first month, Warner Bros. said.

The film will also debut in international theaters on Dec. 16.

"As we navigate these unprecedented times, we’ve had to be innovative in keeping our businesses moving forward while continuing to super-serve our fans," said Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group in a statement.

After the first month for free on HBO Max, "Wonder Woman 1984" will play in theaters for an additional few weeks before being made available for rental on demand.

It is an unprecedented strategy for a film of its size, but a sign of the extraordinary measures that many Hollywood studios have had to resort to in the COVID 19-era. Most major films that had been set for 2020 have either delayed theatrical releases until 2021 or sent them to streaming platforms for a premium rental price, as the Walt Disney Co. did with "Mulan."

Witches" straight to HBO Max, which parent company Warner Media launched earlier this year.

"Wonder Woman 1984" is a major tentpole for Warner Bros. The first film made over $821 million globally in 2017 and this sequel which brings back director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot has been hotly anticipated, not only by fans, but by theaters owners too. Recent spikes in the coronavirus across the country have prompted some areas to close indoor theaters again.

Jenkins wrote about the decision on Twitter.

"At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else," she wrote. "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 you all this holiday season."

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