Wonder Woman 1984 Sets New COVID Record (For What That’s Worth)

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Every superhero struggles at some point. We know that Superman will deal with kryptonite or Iron Man will lose his suit. But we also know that eventually—no matter what struggles they deal with or enemies they face—they’ll triumph in the end.

So it can be said for Wonder Woman.

No, I’m not talking about her clash with arch-nemesis Cheetah or showdown with Max Lord (because, of course, that’d be a spoiler), but about Wonder Woman 1984, the movie. The First Lady of Justice took on COVID-19 and, despite some bumps and bruises, wound up on top.

Sure, the box office wasn’t quite as robust last weekend as we remember from our pre-coronavirus days. Wonder Woman needed just a $16.7 million weekend in North America to take No. 1 over the Christmas holiday. Take a look at this time last year—when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker led the way with $289.8 million—WW84’s take would’ve been only good for fifth place—more than $83 million behind fourth-place Knives Out. (Still, it would’ve beat Cats, so that’s something.)

Still, no movie has made as much in the COVID era as Wonder Woman 1984 had. (Tenet was the previous record holder with a $9.4-million take this September.) Worth noting: Only 35% of theaters are open in the United States, compared to 70% when Tenet was released.

Even more noteworthy: Most people who watched the superhero film likely watched from home, where it was streaming on HBO Max. While we’ve not yet heard how many subscriptions HBO garnered from Wonder Woman, we do know the movie broke all sorts of records for the streaming service: Nearly half of those who have an HBO Max subscription watched the movie on Christmas Day.

No wonder that Warner Bros., the studio behind Wonder Woman 1984, is fast-tracking yet another sequel, which the studio says will have a traditional release.

But Wonder Woman 1984 definitely left some families—especially those who can’t or won’t go to a movie theater just yet—in a quandary: Is the movie worth a subscription to HBO Max? They’re not just pondering the $14.99 monthly subscription fee (or $69.99 for six months), but the streaming service itself. After all, it’s not just Wonder Woman that might land in front of your kids’ eyeballs.

It’s a complicated question—even outside the fact that the movie (as reviewed by Bob Hoose) has some issues of its own. HBO Max actually has a pretty robust streaming service that goes well beyond just what you’d find on HBO. It’s got what it calls “hubs” dedicated to Sesame Street Workshop, Cartoon Network, Studio Ghibli (the studio behind well-regarded anime films such as Spirited Away) and Looney Tunes. And if you’re into old movies like I am, it also offers another hub dedicated to the sorts of films you’d find on Turner Classic Movies.

But then you’ve got, y’know, HBO, which was known to many a parent’s parent as that “naughty premium network” that continues to have a serious yen for nudity and other forms of problematic content. While it has hubs of its own, HBO is a hub itself for salacious, violent and unquestionably adult content.

For parents who want to take the plunge, HBO Max does offer some parental controls: You can create your own Kid profile for your kid, and the service also allows users to block problematic content with a PIN number, which theoretically would keep sons or daughters from switching profiles when you’re not looking.

Still, that’s hardly failsafe technology, and parents will indeed have to ponder whether Wonder Woman (or anything else on the streaming service) is worth it. For those who want to see Wonder Woman 1984 but don’t want to see HBO Max on their TVs or phones, you can always wait for it to come out in the more archaic form of Blu-Ray and DVD. Expect it to drop there in late March or early April.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

5 Responses

  1. – From an interview NPR’s Terry Gross did with Harvard professor Jill Lepore back in 2014:

    “The creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, led a secret life with his wife and his mistress. He fathered children with each of them, and they all lived together. His vision for Wonder Woman reflected his interest in the women’s suffrage movement and in Margaret Sanger, the birth control and women’s rights activist [and founder of Planned Parenthood] who was also his mistress’s aunt. Wonder Woman’s costume was inspired by his intense interest in [redacted] art.”

    “Wonder Woman’s backstory has to do with Amazon culture. Marston’s mistress, Elizabeth Holloway, her favorite book in college was a collection of Sappho’s writing. And in popular culture, Sappho and Amazon culture are very, you know, entwined with the idea of lesbian culture.”

    “I mean, certainly if you read the comics, there’s a whole lot of lesbianism in the comic books themselves. It’s just completely clear. And it’s one of the reasons critics opposed “Wonder Woman” and wanted “Wonder Woman” to stop being published [in the 1940s, 1950s].”

    In this light, Plugged In’s commentary on WW 1984 is remarkable:

    “Ultimately, Wonder Woman remains a positive and inspirational icon who stands for truth, even when doing so comes at great sacrificial cost.”

    “But we also know that eventually—no matter what struggles they deal with or enemies they face—they’ll triumph in the end.

    So it can be said for Wonder Woman.”

    A triumph indeed, when one receives such praise from none other than Focus on the Family for Marston’s legacy.

    1. -Well, what was for evil was turned for good I suppose…in some capacity.

      It is interesting someone so sinful managed to create something relatively positive. If only he had turned away from his sin in the end. (And yes, I was aware of Wonder Woman’s history long before your post.)

  2. -I saw WW84 on HBO Max, and while I wanted to love the movie, I overall felt like the movie was just ok.

    There were definitely parts of the movie I loved (like Cheetah and Hans Zimmer’s score), but this movie was mostly a major downgrade to the first movie, which was really good. Aside from Justice League, I honestly think this was my least favorite film in the DCEU so far (though I haven’t seen Suicide Squad or Birds of Prey).

    Oh well, at least there are still plenty of other films coming to HBO Max next year for me to look forward to.

  3. -I saw my new Shakespeare movies this week and loved both of them. Ophelia was just beautifully shot definitely had the look and feel of that time. She was definitely portrayed differently than she was in the original play having much more spunk and fire to her, but still as captivating as ever. The whole movie flew by in a sort of trancelike quality but was definitely worth it in the end.
    Much Ado about Nothing on the other hand was quite closer to the text but was no less surprising and simply a joy to watch. Michael Keaton and Denzel Washington gave the best performances to me but really the whole thing was a group effort. The laughs the bawdiness the just plain silliness that inhabits the play is in full bloom here and just puts a smile on your face. When it comes to Kenneth Branagh he was simply made to adapt Shakespeare plays in my opinion because first I saw his all is true movie which was outstanding and then I saw Hamlet which was simply breathtaking and now with much ado about nothing he made a total crowd pleaser. Makes me wanna try out more of his films someday but in the meantime I will certainly enjoy what I have 😄.

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