Wonder Woman 1984 Helps Push HBO Max and HBO To 41 Million Subscribers, Reaching Forecast Two Years Early

HBO Max's subscriber base grew to 17.2 million "activated users" before the end of 2020, according to parent company AT&T. That number comes after the still-young streaming service finally brokered deals with Amazon and Roku to be carried on their popular streaming devices, and by the debut of Wonder Woman 1984, the first in a string of theatrical releases that will debut simultaneously on HBO Max. According to AT&T, HBO Max now has 37.66 million subscribers, up from 28.7 million in September. With HBO, the two HBO-branded platforms have a combined subscription total of 41.5 million as of the end of 2020.

HBO Max's launch wasn't as smooth as WarnerMedia may have hoped. There was confusion about the new HBO Max and its relationship to the preexisting HBO Now and HBO Go apps. WarnerMedia also hadn't made deals with Amazon or Roku to get the app onto the most popular standalone streaming devices. This led to HBO Max launching with a paltry 4.1 million activated. By comparison, Disney+ accrued 26 million subscribers in its first two months.

Buzzworthy new shows like The Flight Attendant and The Undoing have drummed up new interest in HBO Max. Then, there's the movie deal, which caused tension with Legendary Studios and theaters, but seems to have paid off with Wonder Woman 1984 drawing fans to the service. Star Gal Gadot previously expressed her support for Warner Bros. deciding to debut Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.

"Look, if you would have told me a year ago that that's gonna be the case, I would flip out and be super angry. But the truth of the matter is we just didn't have other better options," Gadot told Digital Spy. "We felt like we were sitting on this movie for such a long time, we shot the movie in 2018, we started promoting the movie in 2019, we pushed the movie four times. We felt like the movie was so relevant to what's happening in the world right now that you come to a place at a certain time where you're like, 'OK, I just want people to watch the movie.'"

Next up is Godzilla vs. Kong, which seems likely to do the same. And there's also Zack Snyder's Justice League, set to debut in March. Things are looking up for HBO Max in 2021.