For the third weekend in a row, the actual Wonder Woman weekend numbers turned out to be larger than the estimates. So yeah, Wonder Woman made $41.3 million over its third weekend of release. That’s a drop of just 29.5% from its previous $58.25m second weekend. That’s still one of the very smallest third weekend drops ever for a $100m+ opener, behind only Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (-22% for a $49m weekend on New Year’s) and The Jungle Book (-28.9% for a $43m third weekend last April). It is the fourth-biggest third weekend for a superhero movie, behind The Avengers ($55m), Spider-Man ($45m) and The Dark Knight ($42m). It is the 11th-biggest third weekend of all time. The film has now earned $275.127m in 17 days of domestic theatrical play.
In an era of almost weekly so-called “event movies,” Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is the genuine article. It’s the kind of hit movie that’s playing so well and so wide in terms of demographics that it’s doing real damage to the competition. It’s hurting the other tentpoles (The Mummy), the other superhero movies (Captain Underpants) the kid-targeted animated films (Cars 3) and the other female-led studio releases (Rough Night). That’s not necessarily a good thing. No one wins when movies like Rough Night tank and the whole “tentpoles that play to adults and kids” thing isn’t great for a varied multiplex. Nonetheless, Wonder Woman is an invaluable lesson in how much money you can make when you offer a pretty decent movie based upon something that audiences actually want to see.
Here’s a nutty stat: It has dropped just 60% from its first weekend ($103.25 million) to its third weekend, which is lower than most second weekend drops for these kinds of movies. It will eventually shed screens as the late June/early July offerings (Transformers: The Last Knight, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes) take their shot. But based on these legs, there is little reason to expect Wonder Woman to slow down over the next month. With one arguable exception (“I do not kill with my gun, I kill with my heart.”), it’s unique unto itself in that it’s a big(ish) budget franchise offering from an IP where fans and moviegoers wanted to see a movie version. So how much higher might it climb?
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Come what may, it is already on track to be one of the leggiest $100 million+ openers ever. The film has earned $275m in North America after 17 days of domestic play. That gives it a 2.65x weekend-to-final multiplier, already putting it alongside the leggier MCU movies (think Thor and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and above the likes of Suicide Squad (2.48x) and just over/under the various Hunger Games (2.7x) movies. By next week, it should have around $315m domestic, which will give it a 3x multiplier. So now the question is how long it keeps playing not like a comic book superhero movie but like a kid-powered animated film (its Sunday gross was higher than its Friday gross in its second and third weekends) or one of those Walt Disney live-action fairy tale movies.
Of the 44 movies that have opened with over $100 million, discounting a few that didn’t open on a Friday (sorry Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and your $62m opening Wednesday or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and your Thurs-to-Mon Memorial Day weekend debut), 12 of them had multipliers of 3x or more. And yeah, the still-current king of the hill in this regard, Shrek 2, made so little of its $129m Wed-Sun debut on Wednesday and Thursday ($21m) that I’m inclined to count its stunning 4.1x multiplier. But if you’re counting pure Fri-Sun debuts, the champion remains Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($936.6m domestic total/$247.9m opening weekend = 3.78x multiplier).
Next up is Toy Story 3 ($415 million/$110m = 3.77), Finding Dory ($486m/$135m = 3.6) and The Secret Life of Pets ($368m/$104m = 3.53), The Jungle Book ($366m/$104m = 3.52), Rogue One ($532m/$155m = 3.43), Spider-Man ($403m/$114m = 3.51), The Dark Knight ($533m/$158m = 3.37), Jurassic World ($652m/$208m = 3.12), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($421m/$135m = 3.12), Iron Man ($318m/$102m = 3.12) and The Avengers ($623m/$207m = 3x). As you can see, the majority of those are either December openers, animated films, Disney fairy tale movies and/or some of the biggest grossers of all time. So where will Wonder Woman fit on this list?
It’s entirely possible that the film will start to slow down and end up with around $340 million-$345 million in North America, good enough to pass Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad and a still superb 3.3x multiplier, putting it right between Jurassic World and The Dark Knight. But if it keeps playing like it’s been playing, and it very may well if the competition performs just poorly enough that Wonder Woman keeps more screens than it otherwise would have, we may be looking at a stunning figure.
Heck, even a run like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Dark Knight Rises, Jurassic World or Finding Dory gets it to $350 million -$362 million at this point. The last two Star Wars films two huge weeks of holiday-enhanced play before dropping off. If that happens this time, Wonder Woman (sans the holiday of course) still makes it to $345m domestic. If it plays like The Avengers after this weekend, it’ll be a $375 million U.S. total. If it plays like Spider-Man, Iron Man or The Secret Life of Pets from here on out, it gets to $388m-$392m domestic. A best-case-scenario run like The Jungle Book after this point would bring Wonder Woman‘s final domestic gross to $395m domestic.
So yeah, it’s probably not going to make it to $400 million. But, if it makes it to $391m, it will be the leggiest $100m+ opener of all time, save for Shrek 2‘s 4.1x (not accounting for its Wednesday debut). That just shows you how hard it can be to make it to $400m, even with these gonzo opening weekends, in this comparatively frontloaded era. But whether it makes it past wherever Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ends up ($390m?), Wonder Woman is on track to be one of the leggiest live-action mega-openers of all time.
As for why, it’s pretty simple. It’s not another sequel in an ongoing franchise, nor a reboot or a remake of something that once kicked butt at a theater near you. Even in an era where television and streaming offerings can offer approximate experiences to maybe 90% of theatrical features, the idea of a big-budget, female-directed, female-led comic book superhero movie is exactly what the doctor ordered for an underserved demographic.
And that’s the advantage it will have for the rest of the summer. It won’t be the last comic book movie (Spider-Man: Homecoming), the last female-led action movie (Atomic Blonde) or even the last feverishly anticipated, new-to-cinemas literary adaptation (The Dark Tower). But it will be all those things in a crowd-pleasing package. So, no matter where it ends up on the domestic and worldwide rankings, I’m pretty comfortable calling Wonder Woman the movie of the summer.
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