'Wonder Woman 3' Is Being Fast-Tracked By Warner Bros. With Patty Jenkins Returning To Direct

After debuting Wonder Woman 1984 simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, Warner Bros. Pictures has quickly given the greenlight to Wonder Woman 3 with Gal Gadot returning as the DC Comics superhero and Patty Jenkins returning to direct the sequel.

Warner Bros. officially announced plans to fast-track Wonder Woman 3. The announcement from studio chairman Toby Emmerich comes after the first weekend that Wonder Woman 1984 was in theaters around the United States and through the HBO Max streaming service ,where the movie will be available for a total of 30 days. Emmerich said in a statement:

"As fans around the world continue to embrace Diana Prince, driving the strong opening weekend performance of 'Wonder Woman 1984,' we are excited to be able continue her story with our real life Wonder Women — Gal and Patty — who will return to conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy."

As for when Wonder Woman 3 will go into production, that remains to be seen. The Warner Bros. press release says the sequel will be fast-tracked, but Disney and Lucasfilm have already set a release date for Rogue Squadron, the recently announced Star Wars movie that Patty Jenkins is also slated to direct. Since that actually has a release date and is presumably further along in development, we're assuming that Rogue Squadron will be first. But maybe not since Patty Jenkins has already been working on Wonder Woman 3 for a little while too. She recently explained to CinemaBlend's Reelblend podcast:

"I actually came up with a story, and Geoff Johns and I beat out an entire story for Wonder Woman 3 that we were super fired up about. But I've never felt this way before as much as I do now. I don't think I'm doing it next, and so I sort of have to wait and see where we are in the world. It's interesting. What I wanted to talk about in [Wonder Woman 1984] was very prescient to what I was feeling, and what you were feeling, was coming. So now? I'm not sure. So much has changed in the world. I still love the story that we came up with. I'm sure that parts of it would come over to it. But I'm trying to say, 'Don't decide.' Don't fall in love with anything. See 'What would Wonder Woman do now?' What are you craving Wonder Woman to do in this world?"

Regardless of how the story for Wonder Woman 3 will change in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, at least Patty Jenkins is officially on board, and we'll just have to see how the schedule plays out. Since Toby Emmerich said this will "conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy," this maybe the last Wonder Woman outing for the director. There's also a chance that Gal Gadot could be done with Wonder Woman if Patty Jenkins chooses not to return. That likely depends on the future of the DC Extended Universe, especially in the wake of The Flash, which promises to shake up the entire cinematic universe of DC Comics movies.

Normally this kind of announcement comes with a celebration of box office numbers for the latest franchise release, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wonder Woman 1984 only earned $16.7 million at the domestic box office. Combined with the worldwide release from the weekend before Christmas, the DC Comics sequel has made over $85 million worldwide. However, the streaming release appears to be a huge success for HBO Max.

In the press release, HBO Max says nearly half of all their retail subscribers viewed Wonder Woman 1984 on the first day it was available. Meanwhile, there were "millions" more who watched it by way of their HBO Max access via cable, wireless, or other partner services. Andy Forssell, Executive Vice President and General Manager, WarnerMedia Direct-to-Consumer said in a statement:

"Wonder Woman 1984 broke records and exceeded our expectations across all of our key viewing and subscriber metrics in its first 24 hours on the service, and the interest and momentum we're seeing indicates this will likely continue well beyond the weekend. During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn't an option."

It's important to note that Emmerich specifically mentioned this being a "long-planned theatrical trilogy" in the press release, presumably as a way of implying that Warner Bros. is still dedicated to major theatrical releases despite releasing all of their movies simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max throughout the entirety of 2021. After all, director Patty Jenkins recently said this in the press leading up to the release of Wonder Woman 1984:

"I know that I'd love to do the third one if the circumstances were right and there was still a theatrical model possible. I don't know that I would if there wasn't."

Surely Warner Bros. was aware of this, and this ensures that Wonder Woman 3 will be released in theaters, whenever that may be. That doesn't preclude the idea of the movie also going to HBO Max, but since many industry insiders have said WB's 2021 release strategy is just an experiment, we're betting Wonder Woman 3 will be exclusively available in theaters without an accompanying streaming release at the same time. But anything is possible. Stay tuned for more.