Wonder Woman’s Record Success Boosts Warner’s 2017 Bottom Line, DreamWorks Divorce With Fox Is Final, Aliens and Baywatch Continue to Bomb and Disney Remains the Envy of Hollywood
Its safe to say someone at Warner Bros. is getting a raise. Or is at least breathing a little easier.
Warner Bros. has had an up and down year so far. While the Lego Batman Movie performed reasonably well at the box office and Kong: Skull Island managed to justify its enormous production budget thanks to a strong overseas performance, CHiPs and Live By Night both passed through the multiplex without attracting so much as a yawn from audiences while King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is turning out to be a very expensive bomb. On top of all that, Wonder Woman, Warner’s 2017 crown jewel, was the subject of some very nervous hand ringing a few weeks ago.
Last month, initial tracking had the next entry in Warner’s super hero universe opening with 65 million domestically. While no one doubted Wonder Woman would own it’s first weekend, 65 million was a very far cry from what Warner wanted and what the DCEU needed. And just in time, a handful of controversies tumbled out of the woodwork to threaten Wonder Woman’s Hollywood moment (there were some fierce objections to cross promoting the film with ThinkThin diet bars, Lebanon banned the movie because of Gadot’s Israeli heritage, a Texas theatre’s decision to offer a women only screening drew the wrong kind of headlines and some were even criticizing Gadot’s looks, claiming she was too attractive to be a symbol of inclusion). Warner has invested the GDP of a small country in its super hero universe and they needed Wonder Woman to be both a financial and critical hit. And 65 million wasn’t going to cut it.
Fortunately, the First Lady of Comics hit it out of the park with both fans and critics alike. It opened with 103.2 million at home and over 220 million worldwide (it was the best opening ever for a movie helmed by a female director) amid positive reviews and extremely strong word of mouth. But while everyone involved with Princess Diana’s success deserves a moment and a golf clap, there’s still some numbers that need to be crunched.
While Wonder Woman owns the third highest debut of the year so far, she has the lowest opening of any of the DCEU’s cinematic releases despite a much more positive reception by critics and audiences. Her 100 million plus opening is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s tough to see how it reflects the brighter welcome Diana seems to be enjoying. Perhaps the true test will be to see how she performs in her second weekend and beyond. Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad both opened huge but experienced massive drops their second weekend (declines attributed to poor critical reviews and worse word of mouth). The rest of June should also provide an answer to the question on everyone’s mind right now; has Wonder Woman saved the DCEU? Because even if it avoids a drop as sharp as its predecessor’s, it faces some very strong competition beginning with next week’s The Mummy starring Tom Cruise.
Still, Wonder Woman now owns a stronger debut than the first two Captain America, Thor and Iron Man movies and she even outperformed Batman Begins, the first chapter in Christopher Nolan’s cinematic masterpiece. With both star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins signed for a sequel, ideas have been flying all over the Internet for a yet to be announced follow up movie and Wonder Woman’s newfound popularity may have injected new life into this November’s Justice League. Those bragging rights and that popularity could turn out to be worth more than box office dollars.
In other good news for Warner, its young adult drama Everything, Everything now has a modest 28 million to its domestic name. While that may not sound like a lot, keep in mind that it was made for only 10 million. While Everything is no Me Before You, it’s helping ease the sting of King Arthur, which has only managed 37.1 million domestically against it’s 175 million production price tag. At the very least, Wonder Woman and Everything, Everything probably gave Warner’s nervous accountants something to smile about this weekend.
See Ya’ Later Fox
DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox completed their parting of the ways with Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Underpants opened a distant second, drawing 23.8 million. It’s a far cry from their spring release The Boss Baby, which opened with over 50 million (enough to dethrone Beauty and the Beast) and has grossed 171 million so far. But summer animated flicks can sometimes finish with five or six times their initial opening and it will be interesting to see how Underpants performs before it has to compete with Cars 3 in a few weeks and Despicable Me 3 at the end of the month (DreamWorks steered clear of Pixar and Illumination last year, releasing Kung-Fu Panda 3 and Trolls in January and November respectively). Captain Underpants will probably turn a profit because of its respectable 38 million dollar budget, but it is also an underwhelming end to DreamWorks four year old partnership with to 20th Century Fox (DreamWorks Animation releases will be distributed by Universal starting January 1st, 2018).
Baywatch fell to fifth spot, managing just 8.5 million in its second weekend and Alien: Covenant fared little better, adding a mere 4 million in its third weekend. Neither Baywatch nor Alien looks as though they will match their price tags, though Alien may manage to make up some (but not all) of that that ground internationally. The failures of these movies could spell the end of Aliens for the time being while preventing Paramount from launching a much-needed new franchise.
While it would be easy to conclude that the Pirates of the Caribbean gravy train has sunk based on its North American performance (despite opening number one last weekend with over 62 million, Dead Men Tell No Tales fell well short of expectations and suffered an eye opening 65%% in its second weekend), it’s essentially plundered the international market and has grossed more than 500 billion worldwide. Only Beauty and the Beast and Fate of the Furious have performed better worldwide this year. Don’t be surprised to see Captain jack set sail for a sixth time based on that overseas gold.
But Disney has plenty of other pokers in the box office fire. Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 is still performing admirably, holding onto North America’s fourth spot this weekend with an extra 9.8 million in its fifth weekend. While Guardians may fall just shy of the billion-dollar club, it has outperformed the original in every box office metric. And if Disney needs some extra comfort, Beauty and the Beast has now officially passed the half a billion domestic dollar club (a feat only Star Wars Rogue One managed last year) and has fended off Fate of the Furious for 2017’s top grossing global movie with 1.24 billion. With that kind of resume (and an impressive slate of titles to come) Disney should be sleeping more than well at night.
Image Warner Bros. Studios