Box office isn’t something we pay that much attention to nowadays. When is the last time that you went to a movie theater to see a film on opening weekend? We’re still figuring out how to get crowds back into multiplexes safely, and major blockbusters are experimenting with new avenues to get features in front of audiences. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 is one such example, a sequel that endured numerous delays before becoming one of the first Warner Bros. films to try an experimental day-and-date release in theaters, as well as on HBO Max. So, after a month, how is Wonder Woman 1984 doing at the box office?
This past weekend was the first since opening that Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 didn’t get the number one slot on the box office charts, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Liam Neeson’s new film The Marksman earned an estimated $3.7 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. Day frame, good enough to knock the Wonder Woman sequel from the perch. Wonder Woman 1984 earned $2.6 million over the same four-day span, good for a third place finish behind the animated The Croods: The New Age.
But Wonder Woman 1984 has enjoyed a veritable lack of competition at the theaters for this past month. Tom Hanks released the throwback Western News of the World with director Paukl Greengrass, and Carey Mulligan’s Promising Young Woman has been capitalizing on its awards buzz to pull in crowds. Neither made that much of a dent on the figures that Gal Gadot’s sequel was pulling at the box office, even though the DC Films feature also was available on HBO Max to those who have subscribed.
In the grand scheme, we are still talking peanuts. The total gross earned by Wonder Woman 1984 sits at $35.8 million domestically since the film’s launch on Christmas Day. Under normal circumstances, a Wonder Woman sequel would have been expected to earn that amount in one day. In fact, Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman did earn $38.2 million domestically on its opening day of June 2, 2017. The original earned more in one day than the sequel has earned to date.
Granted, we’re in the midst of a pandemic. But those totals can tell a studio how long they have to budget out to earn back monies spent in the time of limited-capacity and audience uncertainty regarding a return to the theater to see a blockbuster. This data can tell a studio how many audience members are content to watch a new comic-book adaptation at home on the HBO Max streaming service, and how many are willing to go out and see a film on the big screen.
I have argued that Wonder Woman 1984 is a clearer indication of audience interest than Christopher Nolan’s Tenet was. Nolan’s twisty thriller was a tough sell even in perfect conditions. A Wonder Woman sequel appeals to virtually everyone. To compare, though, Tenet opened to $20.2 million domestically, and eventually topped out at $57.9 million domestically and $305 million worldwide. Wonder Woman 1984 would need to stay in theaters for months to attain those levels.
So far, Wonder Woman 1984 has performed better overseas, adding an additional $105 million to its gross for a worldwide cume of $141.7 million. Not great, by normal industry standards, but in a time of disarray in the world’s movie theaters and studious trying to find a way forward, those totals at least send the message that some audiences do want to get back to seeing films on the big screen, so long as we all can figure out a way to do it safely.