Looking to watch Wonder Woman 1984 on streaming services in the UK but not sure which is the best to go for? We understand – it's more complicated than you'd think.
Wonder Woman 1984 was one of the most anticipated movie releases of 2020, before cinemas were forced to close. While the straight-to-streaming decision was arguably inevitable given how far away we still seem to be from cinemas re-opening here, it wasn’t just cinemas and cinema fans who were disappointed to miss out on WW1984 on the big screen. Director Patty Jenkins, too, has always been an outspoken advocate of the cinematic experience.
Back in March 2020, when the film’s cinema launch date was initially put back to August, for instance, she tweeted “We made Wonder Woman 1984 for the BIG SCREEN and I believe in the power of cinema.” Not surprisingly, then, when the straight-to-streaming announcement came, Jenkins took to twitter again to plead that you try and watch it on “the biggest and highest quality screen you can”, while also praising HBO Max for showing it in the US in 4K, with both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR options, and Dolby Atmos sound.
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One wonders, then, what Jenkins might make of the way Wonder Woman 1984 turned up in the UK – costing £15.99 for a rental, with no purchase option currently available – on the Sky Q satellite subscription service in HD with no HDR and no Dolby Atmos sound.
Sky has, happily, subsequently added support for 4K and Dolby Atmos – but there’s still no HDR support. Which raises a question for wannabe Wonder Woman 1984 watchers in the UK: given that Sky is certainly not the only service carrying the film, just where is the best place to catch the latest DC blockbuster?
The first thing to say is that the film currently costs the same – £15.99 – across all UK platforms, and is only available on a rental basis. So there’s no price advantage to be found by heading for any particular streaming platform. On a technical level, though, there are clear differences between what various platforms have to offer. So here’s the situation on what I think is every platform carrying the film in the UK.
Even though it has thankfully improved things from its initial dismal no 4K, no HDR and no Dolby Atmos situation, satellite broadcaster Sky, as we’ve seen, arguably still has the weakest offering thanks to its lack of high dynamic range support. For anyone with a good-quality TV, HDR (and the wide colour ranges that typically accompany it) typically have more impact on the viewing experience than 4K does. Especially in a film where the heroine wears one of cinema’s brightest and most colourful costumes!
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video is offering Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K HDR – provided, that is, you make sure you find the 4K version. As usual with Amazon, unfortunately, it carries separate HD and 4K versions of the film on its interface, rather than simply having one option and scaling that to suit your equipment automatically, as Apple and other services do.
Even if you find the 4K HDR version, though, it only carries a 5.1 audio mix, rather than Dolby Atmos. Even though the Amazon Prime Video platform can support Atmos. Note, too, that the only HDR version available is the ‘basic’ HDR10 option rather than an HDR10+ option for compatible TVs.
As usual, Apple’s service puts on a good show by offering support for 4K, Dolby Atmos sound, and both the standard HDR10 and ‘premium’ Dolby Vision HDR formats. Dolby Vision, if you’re not familiar with it, carries extra scene by scene image data not provided by standard HDR10, to help TVs deliver more dynamic images. This only works, though, if your TV supports Dolby Vision (many LG and Sony sets do, for instance, while Samsung TVs do not) – if you TV doesn't support it, you'll still get regular HDR, so it's good either way.
Like Apple, Rakuten offers Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K, Dolby Atmos sound and HDR. Its HDR support does differ in one crucial area, though. For while it naturally supports the ‘industry standard’ HDR10 system, instead of using Dolby Vision to offer a premium HDR experience it uses the rival HDR10+ system.
Supported by Samsung TVs among a few others (but not LG or Sony), HDR10+, like Dolby Vision, provides your TV with extra scene by scene picture information to help it get the best picture quality from HDR sources.
Google goes an impressive visual step further than any other platform in offering Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K resolution and every type of HDR option there is: HDR10, Dolby Vision and HDR10+. The service automatically plays the best version it detects your TV is capable of.
It’s great to see a streaming service – and Warner Bros – embracing both of the available premium HDR formats, rather than just sticking with one or the other. It would be great if Apple TV started offering support for both formats, so long as there are TVs out there that only support one format or the other.
I did find a bug when trying to use Google Play on an LG BX TV, where the Dolby Vision stream wouldn’t trigger. It worked fine via a Sony 48A9 TV, though, and hopefully other LG OLED TV owners don’t find the same problem.
There is one big limitation with the Google Play option, though, in that it doesn’t support Dolby Atmos sound – just regular surround sound.
Available for PC or Xbox consoles through Microsoft’s movie store, Wonder Woman 1984 is presented in 4K with HDR. The HDR is limited to HDR10 support, though, and there’s no Dolby Atmos soundtrack either.
We've been unable to confirm format support for Wonder Woman 1984 on Virgin Media – we'll update if we get a response.
On balance, Apple TV and Rakuten tie for the all-round best way of streaming Wonder Woman 1984 in the UK. Crucially, though, which one you choose depends on what brand of TV you own. The thing is, while both services add support for the dynamic HDR formats to their 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos sound, Apple supports the Dolby Vision HDR system, while Rakuten supports the HDR10+ system.
So unless you’re lucky enough to own a Panasonic or Philips TV that supports both formats, you’re should base your rental decision on which premium HDR format (if any – many TVs only support baseline HDR10) your TV supports. Remember, it's not a big disaster if you pick the other one – you'll still get HDR, it just won't be at its maximum potential.
Since it's only a rental and not a purchase, and since it's the same price everywhere, even if you don't normally use these platforms, it's worth it in this case, to get the best experience.
One other option, if you’re patient and want to experience the film in its absolute best quality, is to wait for the 4K Blu-ray disc. Rumoured to be going on sale around early May, the 4K Blu-ray will offer a pristine 4K picture unaffected by potential broadband bandwidth capacity/inconsistency compression issues; HDR video in hopefully at least Dolby Vision and possibly HDR10+ too; and perhaps best of all, a full-range Dolby Atmos soundtrack rather than the compressed version currently used by all streaming services. That'll be the cinephile's choice, if they can sit on their gauntlet-covered hands long enough…