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Patty Jenkins Challenges Film Studios to Commit to Theatrical Experience

Patty Jenkins Challenges Film Studios
Photo via Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA-2.0)

“Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins urged Hollywood studios to commit to the big screen experience as they emerge from the pandemic — and received enthusiastic applause for the sentiment during a panel on Thursday at theater owners’ confab CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

Upon its December debut, “Wonder Woman 1984,” which was released in theatres as well as day-and-date on HBO Max, grossed $166 million worldwide amid the pandemic, while 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” which was released exclusively in theatres, grossed $821 million, a stark, alarming difference.

“I’m not a fan of day-and-date and I hope to avoid it forever.”Director Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman 1984”)

“I was happy to give it to the public,” Jenkins continued of the superhero sequel, noting that she recognized the streaming release could be “detrimental” to the experience. “I don’t think it plays the same on streaming. I did practical effects and shot it in Imax. It was painful.”

Though the director admitted that releasing the film in both theatres and HBO Max was “the best choice of a bunch of very bad choices,” she nonetheless described the decision to do so as “heartbreaking.”

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Jenkins received more applause as she asserted, “I’m not a fan of day-and-date, and I hope to avoid it forever. … I make movies for the big screen experience.” The director suggested that talent should also be involved in those decisions.

Elsewhere, Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi acknowledged that there would be a lot of “experimentation” during the pandemic, including day-and-date releases with streaming services, but asserted that he’s mostly hearing support for the National Association of Theatre Owners’ position that “some form of a flexible exclusive theatrical window is good for the business.”

“We need to be allies, not adversaries,” Aronson told exhibitors. “Going forward, I think the long-term solution is that exclusive theatrical [window]. … Finding the proper window, we may still be trying to figure that out. We’ll figure that out together.”

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