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Patty Jenkins on ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ and the Future of Theaters

So we argued about that all year, and I had to drop out of doing a whole limited series and only do the first two episodes, and just race to write an 80-page treatment at the same time as I’m trying to direct the show. We finally got lucky that it got moved back. It would have been a much worse movie if it had come out then.

After the pandemic began to heat up and movie theaters started closing, “Wonder Woman 1984” slipped from its initial June 2020 release date to August, October and then Christmas Day. What was your experience on those decisions to keep delaying the film?

It was a fascinating thing, because it wasn’t like any of those calls were confident. It was a group of us sitting around going, “I don’t know, I guess we could say, ‘Three months from now,’ and then we’ll see what happens.” That was a trip, to be talking about a major movie like that with the heads of the studio and the heads of marketing, and everybody’s like, “I guess let’s just say October?”

When did you finally get the call about the release on HBO Max?

Two or three weeks before we announced it. It was weird, because the whole year I was afraid of that, and everybody at the studio kept saying, “No way, we’ll never do that,” because you have to make so much money with this thing. So when they suggested it, I was shocked. We did not agree right away — it was a very, very long process, and I don’t know that they would have let us disagree based on what they’ve been doing now. But I was conveniently into it for this movie.

Warner Bros. has said this is a one-year plan to send all its releases to HBO Max, but not everyone is convinced. Can the genie be put back in the bottle?

I would like to believe that it is temporary, but I’m not sure I do. But I’ll tell you, some studio’s going to go back to the traditional model and cause tremendous upheaval in the industry, because every great filmmaker is going to go work there. And the studios that make this radical change [of moving their theatrical releases to a streaming service], particularly without consulting the artists, will end up with a very empty slate of quality filmmakers working there.

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