As theaters remain closed or operating at a limited capacity, the ongoing pandemic has forced entertainment giants from Warner Bros. to Disney to radically rethink their movie release strategies. Disney has already dropped its one-time spring tentpole Mulan onto Disney+ for a $30 upcharge, but on Christmas day, Warner Bros. will go one better, gifting HBO Max subscribers with free access to blockbuster sequel Wonder Woman 1984 for 31 days.
The move presages the studio’s announced plans to release its entire 2021 film slate the same way, which means if you aren’t a subscriber yet, it’s time to figure out the puzzle that is HBO Max. But if taking on yet another monthly streaming service fee isn’t in the cards, here’s how to enjoy the superhero film for free (or at a lower cost with an ongoing HBO Max subscription) on Dec. 25.
Get a free trial of HBO Max through Hulu or YouTube TV
The free trial for HBO Max is a thing of the past—mostly. Just in time for the launch of Wonder Woman 1984 and other forthcoming blockbusters, HBO has ceased offering a free trial to new customers. Thankfully, you can still test out HBO Max for free for seven days if you bundle it with another streaming service.
Hulu has partnered with HBO Max to offer one week free when you sign up for both streaming services or add HBO Max to your existing Hulu subscription. After the first week, the regular HBO Max price of $14.99 a month will apply. If you sign up now, you will be able to watch the new Wonder Woman film on Christmas day for free, then cancel without paying a dime. (Heck, if you are a new Hulu customer, you can sign up for a free month-long trial of Hulu and a 7-day free trial of HBO Max at the same time, and cancel both before they expire.)
Similarly, if you are a YouTube TV subscriber ($64.99/month with a 5-day free trial), you can also sign up for a 7-day trial of HBO Max. If you go this route you’ll get access to a much wider array of programming available on YouTube TV, but take heed—the monthly cost for that service is pretty steep.
Use your HBO cable subscription
If you are already an HBO customer, HBO Max has made it less than simple to view its new streaming platform. At launch, the confusion around their existing services (whether via a cable provider, or the former HBO Now and HBO Go apps) made it difficult to determine whether you already had access or not. The good news is, if you subscribe to HBO through your cable or satellite provider, you most likely already have access to HBO Max. Go to HBOmax.com, click sign in, then choose “Sign in through TV or mobile provider.” Once you have linked your TV provider, you will be all set to watch Wonder Woman 1984 at no extra cost.
Find a friend
You can have up to five profiles on your HBO Max account, meaning you are free to share your HBO Max access with four others. If you don’t have HBO Max access yourself, call up a friend and see if they will create a profile for you on their account. (If they say yes, you should also offer to split the cost with them. It won’t be free at that point, but at least you’ll be a good friend.)
Purchase six months of HBO Max at a discount
HBO Max’s current pricing promotion won’t give you free access, but it will save you some coin in the long run. HBO is offering six months of their streaming service for $69.99 when paid in advance. At the regular $14.99 price, six months would run about $89.94. Taxes and fees apply, and the offer is only available until Jan. 15, 2021. But once you’re paid up, you’ll have 31 days to enjoy Wonder Woman 1984—and six months to watch all of the other new movies and the usual HBO content.
Rent a movie theater with your bubble
As a concession to theaters, Warner Bros is allowing viewers to watch their films on streaming while simultaneously debuting them on the big screen. That means movie theaters will still be playing the film—provided they are open at all—and, due to the pandemic, renting out an entire theater can cost only a bit more than a pre-pandemic ticket if you can get a few members of your quarantine bubble to chip in on the cost. Movie theaters are renting out their screening rooms to individuals for as little as $100. Bring your bubble buddies along with you, and your screening will cost about $20 each (or less).
Going to the theater is still a risky business. If you do, take proper precautions to lower your risks of transmission and spread:
- Don’t go with anyone outside of your household or trusted quarantine bubble.
- Stay masked at all times, and keep socially distanced within the theater.
- Wash your hands frequently and bring lots of hand sanitizer.