4th Update, 11:40PM: After weathering lackluster critical scores and OK fan responses with last year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, all is well and correct in the Warner Bros./DC universe as Wonder Woman is both a hit with critics (94% Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences alike earning an A CinemaScore on top of her current $98M opening. Out of all the titles in the WB/DC canon, Wonder Woman owns one of five rare A grades along with Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Saturday will determine if Wonder Woman propels past $100M, and a few believe it’s not out of the question.
Four weeks ago, Wonder Woman arrived on tracking at $65M and just grew from there to $75M three weeks out, to $90M a few days before its opening. Not only is that evidence of WB’s marketing machine working effectively, but it’s also an example of what happens when Rotten Tomatoes works in a tentpole’s favor, especially as there’s a groundswell of great reviews days before a film opens.
Compare this to last weekend, when two movies, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch, which originally arrived on tracking a month out with great prospects, saw their B.O. projections dashed days before opening no thanks to the aggregator site’s sour scores. Even though both titles earned decent respective CinemaScores of A- and B+, moviegoers relied instead on Rotten Tomatoes in determining whether to watch those movies or not.
But now Wonder Woman can look forward to some super powerful long legs for the rest of summer thanks to both a great Rotten Tomato rating and excellent audience reaction, read Screen Engine/ComScore is now reporting a 74% definite recommend for the Gal Gadot movie.
The pent-up demand for Wonder Woman is reminiscent of how moviegoers were longing for the first Batman movie twenty eight years ago. Wherever you happen to be, just look around and you’ll see women and young girls wearing Wonder Woman T-shirts and leather jackets; licensed product that’s part of a $6.5 billion merchandising revenue stream for Warner Bros. In fact, during the month leading up to Wonder Woman‘s opening, Ebay sales for her merchandise more than doubled when compared to April.
Now, whenever a studio is marketing a tentpole, the last thing they need is any controversy that distracts from their campaign, seeps into a film’s reviews and sends its box office down the drain, i.e. Ghost in the Shell offending the Asian American community with its whitewash casting of Scarlett Johansson. In fact, Wonder Woman last month endured a small controversy of its own when the studio partnered up with ThinkThin protein bars. The announcement created an immediate ire among female-driven media: They felt the cross-promotion run counter to Wonder Women’s symbol of female empowerment, but it reminded women of the harsh criticism that Gadot endured over her body following her attachment to the project. But it was ThinkThin’s product slogans that jived with Wonder Woman‘s sensibilities, i.e. a strong body makes a strong mind; a scale can’t measure your strength, courage, kindness or intelligence.
However, the good will emanating from Wonder Woman was so loud, it’s made that marketing snafu ancient history. Nothing could stand in the way of this film’s momentum.
Bigger progress is being made this weekend by the Patty Jenkins-directed film, especially in a town that counts only 4% female directors across 1,000 top movies (for the period of 2007-2016, University of Southern California): Wonder Woman shattered the domestic box office opening record for a movie directed by a woman, beating previous champ Fifty Shades of Grey by Sam Taylor-Johnson ($85.1M). Wonder Woman is the second benchmark for female helmers in less than a week following Sofia Coppola’s best director win at the Cannes Film Festival for her movie The Beguiled; the second time in the cinematic event’s 70-year history that a woman has won that prize. The hope from these events is that the major studios embrace female directors for big-budget projects in greater numbers. Marvel and Disney are respectively carrying the torch with Anna Boden as the co-director on the Brie Larson project Captain Marvel and Ava DuVernay on A Wrinkle in Time.
CinemaScore showed more women turning out 52% to 48% guys tonight with 14% under 18 (A) and 14% between the ages of 18-24 (A+), as well as 53% under the age of 35. PostTrak continues to show older females over 25 leading the charge to Wonder Woman (37%), followed by guys over 25 (34%), females under 25 (17%) and men under 25 (12%).
Thanks to Wonder Woman, Warner Bros. 2017 domestic B.O. by Sunday will near $640M, +22% over the Jan. 1- June 4 period last year.
Counterprogramming is also solid this weekend with DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s handholder pic Captain Underpants drawing $25.1M, a great start considering that’s off a mid-$30M production cost before P&A and that these kid pics can do at least a four-to-five end multiple stateside. DWA acquired the rights to the Dav Pilkey novels six years ago. The studio, given their passion for the property, wanted to accelerate the project, but their pipeline was full with Trolls and The Boss Baby. In order to move Captain Underpants forward, DWA outsourced the animation to Mikros in Montreal, Canada; the first time DWA partnered outside its own in-house team. These factors led to an experimental process, which was viable because of the simplistic style of the book’s animation, resulting in a quicker and less expensive production process. Captain Underpants gets a B+ CinemaScore tonight.
For the weekend of June 2-4 based on late night Friday estimates:
1.). Wonder Woman (WB), 4,165 theaters / $38.8M Fri. (includes $11M previews)/3-day cume: $98M/Total: Wk 2
2.). Captain Underpants (DWA/20TH), 3,434 theaters / $7.6M Fri. (includes $650K previews) /3-day cume: $25.1M/Total: Wk 1
3.). Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (DIS), 4,276 theaters / $6.1M Fri. (-74%)/3-day cume: $22.3M (-65%)/Total:$115.3M/ Wk 2
4.). The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (DIS), 3,507 theaters (-364) / $2.4M Fri.(-54%) /3-day cume: $9.5M (-55%) / Total: $355.2M / Wk 5
5.). Baywatch (FOX), 3,647 theaters / $2.4M Fri.(-58%)/ 3-day cume: $7.9M (-57%)/Total:$41.1M/ Wk 2
6.). Alien: Covenant (FOX), 2,660 theaters (-1,112) / $1.1M Fri. (-61%) /$3-day cume: $4M (-63%)/Total: $67.2M Wk 3
7.). Everything, Everything (WB/MGM), 2,375 theaters (-426) / $1M Fri. (-50%)/ /3-day cume: $3M (-49%) /Total:$28M/ Wk 3
8.). Snatched (FOX), 1,625 theaters (-1,033) / $381K Fri. (-65%) /3-day cume: $1.3M (-68%) / Total:$43.8 M / Wk 4
9.). Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (FOX), 2,088 theaters (-1,086) / $370K Fri. (-71%) / 3-day cume: $1.27M (-72%)/ Total: $17.9M/Wk 3
10.). King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (WB/VR), 1,222 theaters (-1,281)/ $284K Fri. (-68%) /3-day cume: $983K (-70%) /Total:$37M / Wk 4
3rd Update Writethru, Friday 4:38PM: Late afternoon industry estimates show Warner Bros/DC and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman rising to $38.5M today, and $95M+ for the weekend. That’s easily the best domestic opening for a female director, beating previous champ Fifty Shades of Grey directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson ($85.1M). Some think Wonder Woman can tip $100M over three days; we’ll have a better idea later tonight. Too soon to call.
At this box office level, Wonder Woman is beating the debuts of such first-time superhero features as Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange ($32.6M first day, $85M for the weekend), Guardians Of The Galaxy ($37.8M, $94.3M weekend), Thor ($65.7M) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($65M). Wonder Woman even beats the five-day haul of her DC peer Batman Begins ($72.9M).
Other top openings by female directors include Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight ($69.6M), Jennifer Lee’s Frozen (with Chris Buck, $67.4M) and Brenda Chapman’s Brave (with Mark Andrews at $66.3M).
Breaking down age groups by gender last night, Screen Engine/comScore’s PostTrak showed that women over 25 (37%) led the charge into theaters, followed by men over 25 (35%), then men under 25 (15%) and women under 25 (13%). It will be interesting to see whether that latter demo explodes as we head into the weekend as they’re apt to make decisions on the fly, and in groups. Sixty-three percent of the audience bought tickets yesterday vs. 10% more than a week ago. Fifty-three percent watched Wonder Woman in 3D versus 47% in 2D.
Also doing well is 20th Century Fox’s Captain Underpants with an estimated $8M-$9M per industry sources today and between $25M-$31M at 3,434 venues for the weekend, slotting second. Why so good? Because we hear the movie cost under $30M (before P&A) as it was part of a new experimental model under the DreamWorks Animation umbrella. Great reviews at 84% are certainly helping here. The movie is based on the epic kids books by Dav Pilkey, directed by David Soren and starring the voices of Ed Helms, Kevin Hart, Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele and Kristen Schaal.
Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales isn’t far behind with $6M today and an estimated $21M in Weekend 2, down 67%, for a 10-day run of $110.4M. Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 looks like $2.5M today and a fifth weekend of $9.5M, down 55%, for an estimated running cume of $353.8M by Sunday.
Paramount’s Baywatch is swimming toward $1.8M today and $5.8M in Week 2, down 69%, for a running domestic total by Sunday of $37.7M.
PREVIOUS, Friday, 7:24 AM: Just in time for her 75th anniversary this year, Wonder Woman finally arrived in U.S. cinemas last night courtesy of Warner Bros/DC and director Patty Jenkins with $11 million. It marks the best preview night ever at the domestic box office for a movie directed by a female. The previous record was held by Sam Taylor Johnson’s Fifty Shades Of Grey, which made $8.6M.
Warner Bros had Wonder Woman estimated at a weekend opening of $65M-$75M, while tracking has been more aggressive suggesting a $90M three-day at 4,165 theaters. Critics were cruel last year with the WB/DC movies Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (27% Rotten) and Suicide Squad (25%), but Wonder Woman at 93% Certified Fresh is the best-reviewed DC movie since The Dark Knight Rises five years ago (87% Certified Fresh). And in this box office marketplace, ruby red Rotten Tomatoes ratings are like hard cash, and as such Warner Bros can count on Wonder Woman overperforming since most moviegoers make their ticket-buying decisions off the aggregator site. On Screen Engine/ComScore’s PostTrak, Wonder Woman received an overall 85% total positive score, with an awesome 70% definite recommend. Forty nine-percent said the movie met their expectations, while 47% said it exceeded expectations.
Wonder Woman’s Thursday night charts above the preview nights of such superhero origin stories as Doctor Strange ($9.4M), Ant-Man ($6.4M), Thor ($3.2M) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($4M), and just below Guardians Of The Galaxy ($11.2M). Of Wonder Woman‘s $11M, $1.5M was generated by Imax.
Further deep diving into audience stats, PostTrak shows that 39% attended last night because of their interest in the DC franchise, 53% because it was a superhero movie, and 31% because they love leading actress Gal Gadot. Even more impressive: a 50-50 split between male and female audience members. Thirty-one percent plan to buy Wonder Woman on Blu-ray, while 24% plan to see the movie again in the theater.
For years, the Burbank, CA studio has tried to bring the most famous female superhero to the big screen, with previous attempts including a 2005 Joel Silver-produced, Joss Whedon-penned version; a 2003 take involving Wonder Woman’s daughter Donna Troy; the 2007 Kieran and Michele Mulroney-scripted Justice League project in which Diana Prince’s alter ego faces off with Superman; and David E. Kelley’s 2011 NBC pilot. While we’ve had previous female superhero titles in the past like Supergirl and Elektra, Wonder Woman is arguably the biggest major studio feature for the sub-genre with an estimated total production & P&A cost of $300M.
Heading into the weekend, social media monitor RelishMix reports glowing word of mouth from a very good social media universe of 333.5M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube views and Instagram, and the pic’s social media superhero Gal Gadot, who counts 14.2M online fans.
Says RelishMix, “Fans of the DC character are obviously in a cold sweat awaiting tonight’s opening. They love Gal Gadot, the fact the film was directed by a woman, and that the critics are giving this adventure solid reviews so far. While it’s interesting to see the feminist side-discussion and the superfans rage on, we also see a fair share of summer moviegoers chiming in exclaiming that the trailer looks good, the cast looks awesome — and so does the action.”
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox’s final release of DreamWorks Animation’s Captain Underpants drew $650,000 from previews at 2,550 locations last night which started at 5 PM. School isn’t really out yet for the K-12 crowd, and it pays to note that DWA’s Home made the same amount of money on March 27, 2015. Captain Underpants, which is known to largely appeal to the handholder kid crowd, will open at 3,434 theaters today with an eye on $20M-$22M.
Among those films in regular release, Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales charted an estimated $3.4M at 4,276 venues yesterday taking its opening-week cume to $93M, 18% behind the first week of its previous sequel On Stranger Tides ($113.6M).
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 from Disney/Marvel collected $1.39M yesterday at 3,871 theaters in second, bringing its four-week tally to $345.7M. Paramount’s R-rated Dwayne Johnson-Zac Efron comedy Baywatch slotted third with $1.34M at 3,647 with a running eight-day cume of $33.2M.