POST TIME: 17 December, 2020 03:49:12 PM
Wonder Woman 1984: Film sequel opens to a quarter of UK cinemas
BBC, London

Wonder Woman 1984: Film sequel opens to a quarter of UK cinemas

Gal Gadot reprises her leading role in Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 has become the second Hollywood blockbuster to hit UK cinemas since March - but only around a quarter of cinemas are currently open.

The sequel to the 2017 hit starring Gal Gadot is one of the rare major releases not to have been pushed back to 2021.

But with many areas now back under strict Covid-19 restrictions, just 228 of the UK's 840 cinemas remain open.

In the US, the film will be released in cinemas and on streaming platform HBO Max at the same time, on Christmas Day.

But no on-demand release has yet been announced for the UK.

London moved into England's tier three coronavirus rules on the day of the film's UK release, on Wednesday, meaning the capital's entertainment venues must shut, as those in some other areas have already done.

While 27% of UK cinemas are still open, according to the UK Cinema Association, some of those are arthouse or smaller venues that would not typically show a major Hollywood release.

Wonder Woman 1984, which is set during the Cold War and co-stars Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal and Robin Wright, had a reported budget of $200m (£146m).

It follows in the footsteps of Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which was released in August and is the only other blockbuster to have opened during the pandemic.

Tenet grossed more than $350m (£259m) worldwide - a healthy figure, but much less than would have been expected in normal times.

Most other major Hollywood films, including James Bond's No Time To Die, Marvel's Black Widow and Top Gun: Maverick, have had their releases pushed back to 2021.

Wonder Woman 1984 had already been delayed from June. Gadot's first Wonder Woman film was a critical and commercial success that grossed more than $821m (£615m) worldwide.

Director Patty Jenkins said that, while she agreed to the simultaneous streaming release in the US, she did not want to see the end of cinemas.

She told the PA news agency: "I'm very wedded to the theatrical release model unless there's a new way we can find that really protects the in-theatre experience.

"It was a very hard choice for us to figure out how to release this film. I myself am so surprised that I embraced this plan so much but it just was the right time, we'd waited long enough.

"I'm so excited this is a new way to release a film, everybody in the world is trying to adjust to these crazy circumstances but I really hope we respect what we have in the theatrical industry going forward."

She concluded: "We may discover all kinds of new and interesting things for different projects but I do very much believe in the right films going just to theatres and having fans see it the way you made the film to be seen first."

Mixed reviews

Critics were enthusiastic about the release of a major new film to keep cinemas afloat, with Total Film describing Wonder Woman 1984 as "the blockbuster we need right now".

However, the film itself received a middling reception, with several reviews awarding it three stars.

The Telegraph said it was "a bit of a marshmallowy muddle", but added that Warner Bros deserved "enormous credit" for pressing ahead with its release.

Digital Spy summarised it as "a great cast starring in an okay movie", while The Guardian said it was "an epically long and epically brash film" held together by Gadot's "queenly self-possession".

There were more glowing reviews from The Times, which said it was "a seriously good sequel", and The Independent, which declared: "Wonder Woman 1984 is a piece of hopeful, uncynical filmmaking, and it's ambitious enough to make up for its minor flaws."