WONDER WOMAN 1984 Is A (Pandemic) Box Office Hit (FILM NEWS)

While falling far short of normal expectations, WONDER WOMAN 1984 is overcoming many pandemic-era obstacles.

In just ten days of theatrical release, Wonder Woman 1984 is nearly halfway to the total box office haul of Tenet, the current “champ” of the pandemic era.

After a $16.7 million opening over the Christmas holiday weekend (which was about 75% better than the debuts of Tenet in September and The Croods 2 over Thanksgiving), Wonder Woman 1984 remained the #1 movie in multiplexes for the second straight weekend. But with just a $5.5 million domestic take over New Year’s weekend 2021, the drop was a steep 67%, suggesting that the polarizing online response to the super-sequel has begun to take a toll.

Nevertheless, with a 10-day cume of $28.5 million in the U.S. and $118.5 million worldwide, Wonder Woman 1984 is performing at a clip that could see it top Tenet‘s $57.9 million domestic and $360 million global pandemic numbers. Even its lackluster second-weekend take of $5.5 million was more than the first-weekend numbers for movies that debuted throughout Fall 2020. That seasonal slate averaged $3-to-$4 million.

Coming in second from Jan. 1 to 3 was The Croods: A New Age ($2.2 million, for a $34.5 domestic total). The Tom Hanks western News of the World was third ($1.7 million; $5.4 million total since Christmas Day), sci-fi actioner Monster Hunter fourth ($1.2 million; $6.3 mill total) and Hilary Swank thriller Fatale fifth ($700,000; $3.1 million total).

Success, of course, is very much a relative thing during this ongoing COVID-19 imposed slump. While Wonder Woman 1984 won’t come anywhere near the heights of its predecessor (which earned over $412 million in North America and $822 million worldwide), consider the obstacles it’s up against:

  • Only 35% of U.S. theaters are currently open for operation (down from near 50% for Tenet), with all venues in major markets like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia completely shuttered.
  • Those closures include the entire chain of Regal cinemas, the #2 multiplex brand in the U.S (second only to AMC). Regal was open for the bulk of Tenet’s run.
  • Theaters currently open are running at limited capacity, operating at 40% maximum or less.
  • The theatrical potential for Wonder Woman 1984 is being further undercut by its simultaneous release on streamer HBO Max (another complication that Tenet didn’t have to contend with).
  • The Christmas Day release of Pixar’s Soul on Disney Plus has inevitably cut into WW84‘s market performance as well.

In many ways, the deck was stacked against Wonder Woman 1984 more than it was against Tenet, exponentially so, and so to label it a bust by non-pandemic standards would be simplistic, even unfair.

That said, for a movie that could’ve reached $1 billion dollars worldwide under normal circumstances, if WarnerMedia doesn’t see a significant spike in HBO Max subscribers then its dual-platform release experiment will rightly be deemed a failure.

More ominously, it would make Warner’s current plans to release all of their 2021 blockbusters under the same dual-platform model look even more suspect than it already does. (That would include highly-anticipated titles like Dune, Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, In The Heights, and more.)

Internationally, Pixar’s Soul (which is playing theatrically rather than via streaming) led all films with $16.5 million. Wonder Woman 1984 was second with $10.1 million, although its global take of $118 million so far exceeds Soul‘s total receipts of $32.5 million.

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