Wonder Woman Delivers for HBO Max, Beating All of Disney+'s Recent Releases

Ariel Michaeli Ariel Michaeli
12/30/20 #streaming #hbo #disney

Faced with mostly-closed movie theatres and an already delayed mega film collecting dust, Warner Bros. placed a big bet on sister company HBO, to carry Wonder Woman 1984, DC's the long-awaited response to the MCU.

In an almost first, the movie launched in theatres and on the streaming service at the same time. The "almost" in this case is a reference to Disney+, which launched Mulan in a similar fashion earlier in the year but with a twist—it charged a premium fee. HBO Max did not.

Wonder Woman launched last Friday. Let's see how it did, using our app intelligence, and how it compares with Disney's Mulan.

The Most Downloads Ever!

The bet worked. HBO Max was downloaded 680K times between Friday and Sunday, according to our estimates. That's more than 5x the downloads HBO Max gets on average for the 3-day span.

Saturday was the app's all-time best, with 242K estimated downloads, beating launch day, which earned HBO Max 179K downloads at the end of May.

Those downloads come from both new potential customers who will go on to subscribe through the App Store and Google Play, and also existing HBO customers with a subscription through a traditional cable provider.

HBO Max dropped its free trial, so to watch the movie, those new downloads need to turn into revenue. Let's see what that looked like.

HBO's $1,000,000 Day

Based on our estimates, on Friday, HBO Max earned more than $1,000,000 in net revenue, which means the revenue HBO keeps after Apple and Google take their cut. Between Friday and Sunday, HBO netted a whopping $2.73M. Needless to say, that's, bar far, HBO Max's all-time best. That's including the days when it was HBO Now.

Side note: Apple earned $908K and Google $262K from HBO's success. That's not included in the figures above.

Based on these estimates, at $14.99/mo., this number suggests HBO Max added more than 136K new paying subscriptions between Friday and Sunday. In total, of HBO Max's reported 12.6M subscriptions, 1.4M comes directly from the App Store and Google Play. This figure grew more than 36% compared to November. That's impressive month-over-month revenue growth.

Wonder Woman Skips Over Mulan

Streaming + theatres is a new strategy, so there isn't a direct comparison we can make. But! In September, Disney chose to release the long-awaited Mulan directly to Disney+ instead of theatres, which is the most similar release we've seen so far, so we can compare the two.

There's one twist: Disney+ charged its (already paying) subscribers an additional $30 "Premier Access" fee to watch the movie. It did well, 480K downloads in the Friday - Sunday span. Wonder Woman did better. 200,000 times better according to our intelligence.

Soul, Disney's Christmas release, went directly to Disney+ and added 466K downloads in the same 3-day span. And one more comparison, to add more context, Hamilton earned Disney+ an estimated 540K downloads when it was released in July. It's not really a movie, I know.

But, Is It a One Hit Wonder?

Prior to the release of WW1984, HBO Max was trailing behind all other streaming services in the US. In December, it wasn't. Will this be the one to shift their trend or a one-time spike? That really depends on the movie.

We took to Twitter to see what people thought about the movie:

Of the people who watched the movie, most didn't like it, which means this growth probably won't go on for too long. But... Most respondents didn't actually see the movie. Considering how big the Wonder Woman brand is, this is a great opportunity for HBO Max, one they are trying to capitalize on with discounted subscriptions and lots of ads.

What did you think of the movie. Do you think Warner Bros. got it right? Let us know on Twitter @appfigures.

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