“We could lose movie theater-going forever,” said Jenkins in an interview with news agency Reuters.
The Gal Gadot-starring “Wonder Woman 1984” has been delayed three times due to the global pandemic. Most recently, the blockbuster sequel was pushed from its Oct. 2 debut to Dec. 25.
Jenkins, whose comments come just days before international multiplex chain Cineworld indefinitely shutters its U.K. venues and all Regal branches stateside, warned that the tentpole delays and cinema closures could ultimately see more films land on streaming services.
“It could be the kind of thing that happened to the music industry, where you could crumble the entire industry by making it something that can’t be profitable,” said Jenkins.
The director — who assured that a straight-to-VOD play for her film isn’t being considered by Warner Bros. — said big action films like the “Wonder Woman” franchise wouldn’t be as prevalent on streaming sites due to their sheer scale, and audiences would ultimately lose out on the big-screen experience.
“I don’t think any of us want to live in a world where the only option is to take your kids to watch a movie in your own living room, and not have a place to go for a date,” said Jenkins.
“I really hope that we are able to be one of the very first ones to come back and bring that into everyone’s life,” she said.
In the U.S., nearly 70% of movie theaters have reopened, but important markets like New York and Los Angeles remain closed. Despite robust international box office returns for the likes of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” analysts suggest that it’s unwise to release big-budgeted movies until key U.S. cities can welcome patrons. The first “Wonder Woman,” in 2017, collected over $400 million in North America alone — and the sequel would struggle to even come close to that figure without some of the country’s biggest markets in play.
Holiday releases by Warner Bros. have tended to pay off for the studio. “Aquaman,” which released in 2018, generated over $1 billion after hitting theaters around Christmastime. The hope, barring a second wave of coronavirus, is that theaters in New York and Los Angeles will be able to open by “Wonder Woman 1984’s” Dec. 25 release.