Warner Bros. could postpone Wonder Woman 1984 until December if the studio decides to give its August 14 release date to the Christopher Nolan-directed Tenet, currently planned to open in theaters July 17. The 1980s-set superhero sequel, again teaming director Patty Jenkins with Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, was previously set to open in mid-December before being moved up weeks earlier to November 1, 2019. Warner Bros. then pushed the tentpole to a prime summer slot of June 5, 2020, but Wonder Woman 1984 was delayed until its current date of August 14 amid global theater closures caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Sources close to Deadline report Warner Bros. requires at least 80% of the world's theaters to be open for Tenet to stay on its July 17 release date. Domestically, that requirement includes Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, which can represent 25% of a film’s opening weekend at the box office.
Tenet, which cost a reported $200 million, requires 3,500 domestic theaters be open and 30,000-plus screens worldwide, according to the source. If the majority of theaters don't show positive signs of reopening by the first week of June, Tenet moves off its mid-July date. Theater owners report Tenet would be pushed back four weeks to the August 14 date, sending Wonder Woman 1984 to December.
Warner Bros. currently has two dates staked out that month: Denis Villeneuve's star-studded Dune, planned for December 18, and the live-action and animated blended Tom and Jerry, planned for December 23. If Tenet moves, so will everything else in the near future, including Disney's live-action Mulan, which already moved back from March 27 to July 24.
Warners is said to be assessing the situation daily under advice from medical experts and keeping a close eye on exhibition reopenings. A May 15 report from Variety showed nearly 200 U.S. theaters are now open, the majority of them drive-in theaters.
One sociologist predicts audiences will be "too hesitant" to visit reopened theaters despite the allure of such films as Tenet or Marvel’s Black Widow, now scheduled for November, but a recently conducted survey shows nearly 75% of respondents expressed a willingness to return to theaters if the proper security protocols are in place.
"I know Chris really would like to be come out with the film that for theaters, but that's up to a lot of things including government regulations and the virus and all sorts of things," IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond said of the Tenet director during a quarterly earnings call earlier this month. "Certain filmmakers are very anxious to have their movies release. So I don't know anyone in America who's pushing harder than Chris Nolan to get the theaters open and to get his movie released in July when it's scheduled for."
Gelfond continued, "So it's really a balance. I've frankly never seen closer cooperation of the studios and the exhibitors than now. There's just almost a daily dialogue going on for everybody's trying to assess when are the likely opening dates and what is the optimal time. And I think people are really working together to make it happen."
Tenet is planned to open July 17, followed by Wonder Woman 1984 on August 14.