DC (and by extension, their parent company Warner Bros.) and Sony each had one goal entering 2017. In short, both needed to salvage flailing properties that their futures were intrinsically tied to. And both needed comic book movies to do it.
Let’s start with Sony’s recent Spider–Man re-launch (and re-launch is the right word since Sony decided to partner with Marvel Studios for their new Spidey instead of simply going back to the drawing board with a new lead, a new villain and a new way to tell an origin story everyone already knew). Sony’s decision to join forces with Marvel began paying immediate dividends when Tom Holland’s new Spider-Man appeared in last year’s blockbuster Captain America: Civil War.
That appearance got audiences buzzing about this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and was far more valuable than any ad campaign. That anticipation combined with generally favorable reviews (including mine) handed Spidey and Sony a 117 million dollar opening last week (the third largest opening of the year so far). While everyone’s favourite wall crawler took a 61% drop in his second weekend, he has still managed to gross over 208 million domestic dollars in his first ten days alone and has an eye opening 469 million to his global name already. He should definitely hit 300 million here at home and Sony has their fingers crossed he can hit the billion dollar mark worldwide (while that looks like a long shot at this juncture, it isn’t completely impossible).
As a result both Sony and Marvel have big for Spider-Man’s cinematic future. Sony is launching an entire sub-universe around him, announcing stand-alone movies for Venom (starring Tom Hardy as original Venom host Eddie Brock, it’s tentatively scheduled to hit theatres in October of 2018) as well as a Silver Sable/Black Cat movie. Sony is also going ahead with an animated Spider-Man movie featuring fan favourite Miles Morales as the wall crawler (currently scheduled for Christmas of 2018) and is hoping to make Spidey a much needed cornerstone for the next decade or more (something the faltering study badly needs).
Spidey will also be playing a role in next year’s hotly anticipated and likely record breaking Avengers: Infinity War (he reportedly got the biggest audience pop at last weekend’s D23 when the cast was introduced to a surprised audience) and there are whispers Kevin Feige hopes to use Homecoming’s inevitable sequel to launch the MCU’s fourth phase.
Meanwhile over at Warner Bros., Wonder Woman has become something of a different savior. Despite making obscene mounts of money, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (seriously, who approved such a wordy title?) and Suicide Squad were polarizing flics to say the least. Both received dismal Rotten Tomato scores, both were vilified by fans and moviegoers as much as they were applauded and, despite their final totals, both fell short of the lofty box office expectations their openings invited (BvS, which was a rumoured 450 million dollar investment, should have had no problems joining the billion dollar club after its mammoth global opening but in the end it couldn’t pass the 900 million mark). Wonder Woman was seen as DC’s last chance and if it couldn’t deliver, fans were ready to throw up their frustrated arms and walk away.
But the Amazon Princess delivered like a champ.
While her 103.3 million opening last June still stands as the fourth best debut of the year, it was the lowest of the DC Extended Universe’s four movie stable (Man of Steel got DC’s ball rolling back in 2013) and had some people puling out their calculators to see where her final total would wind up. But it seems Diana was just stretching before she began bucking some box office trends.
Summer blockbusters usually demonstrate a minimum domestic multiplier of 2.2. In plain English that means a summer tent pole will usually finish with at least 2.2 times whatever it earned it’s first weekend. A movie that opens with 50 million is almost guaranteed to finish its North American run somewhere around 110 million. A strong movie will generally finish with a 2.5 multiplier, meaning that same 50 million dollar film will end up with 125 million. A multiplier is defined by a film’s word of mouth, critic reviews, timing and any other number of factors.
Beauty and the Beast-2017’s current domestic box office champ-has a multiplier of 2.88, finishing with around 504 million on an opening weekend of nearly 175 million.
The reason I bored you with that is to make point about Wonder Woman’s box office durability. After opening with 103.3 million dollars, Wonder Woman has grossed over 380 million domestically, an astounding multiplier of 3.68. She held onto the top spot at North America’s box office for two straight weeks before yielding it to Cars 3. It held firm among North America’s top five grossing movies during its first six weeks of release and held the sixth spot last weekend.
Wonder Woman is currently the third highest grossing movie the year and it should catch The Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 for the number two spot later this month. And as of right now, among 2017’s remaining films, only one or two may be able to knock her down the box office list (looking at you Last Jedi).
Remember when I said that Diana had the lowest debut of all the DCEU’s current films? Well forget that because she is now the highest domestic grossing film in DC’s cinematic universe and currently has her sights set on 400 million North American dollars, a target Man of Steel, BvS and Suicide Squad never came close to. And while her foreign totals aren’t quite as eye-popping, Diana’s first solo film passed Suicide Squad earlier this month as the DCEU’s second highest worldwide earner. While she probably won’t catch Batman Vs. Superman’s final global number, she will be much more profitable considering her move cost around half as much to produce.
And as an added plus, unlike previous, divisive DCEU movies, audiences have embraced Wonder Woman since day one. If they hadn’t she wouldn’t be close to quadrupling her domestic opening, a near impossible feat box office feat these days.