‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Sets New COVID-era Record With $16.7 Million Domestic Opening
For months, all eyes have been on Wonder Woman 1984, the most high-profile film still standing for a 2020 theatrical release. Well, the wait finally ended over the Christmas holiday weekend and the DC superhero delivered with a muscular $16.7 million domestic debut, far exceeding industry expectations and setting a new COVID-era record at the box office in the process.

After delaying its release several times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. finally unveiled its sequel to the 2017 Gal Gadot blockbuster on Christmas Day. But heading into the weekend, the movie’s box-office fate remained a giant question mark since the studio had decided to release the film on its HBO Max streaming service simultaneously with its theatrical bow. Would moviegoers stay home and watch the film in their living rooms or would they venture out to the multiplex? The answer, it turned out, was both.

While the opening numbers for Wonder Woman 1984 fell far short of the $103.3 million that the first Wonder Woman pulled in at the domestic box office in the summer of 2017, it was a significant improvement over the first-weekend pandemic-era record previously held by Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which bowed to $9.4 million in North America back in September.

Despite wildly mixed reviews, the latest DC installment did equally robust numbers abroad, where its magical lasso pulled in $68.3 million in 41 additional markets in its first two weeks; it opened a week earlier overseas. The film’s cumulative worldwide tally now stands at $85 million. While that figure is still a long way from Wonder Woman 1984’s reported $200 million budget (not to mention the original’s $822 million worldwide box office haul), Warner Bros. was so pleased with the film’s performance that it announced it was fast-tracking a Wonder Woman 3 with Gadot and Jenkins before the weekend was over. Wonder Woman 1984’s numbers also bode well for Warner Bros.’ strategy of releasing all of its 2021 titles (including Dune, The Matrix 4, and In the Heights) in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time.

Still, Wonder Woman wasn’t the only glitzy yuletide offering this weekend. Universal’s News of the World, which stars Tom Hanks as a Civil War veteran escorting a young girl on a perilous frontier journey, debuted in the runner-up spot with $2.4 million. The PG-13-rated Western played in 1,900 theaters and earned a $1,263 per-screen average. It has not opened internationally yet. Thanks to a window-shortening deal struck between Universal and two of the nation’s biggest theater chains, AMC and Cinemark, the film will be available on VOD in a few weeks.

In third place was Universal and DreamWorks’ animated sequel The Croods: A New Age, which dipped -16.8% in its fifth week, pulling in $1.7 million in North America. The PG-rated film, which features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds, scored a $1,002 per-screen average in 1,726 theaters. It has racked up $30.3 million at the domestic box office to date and another $67.9 million overseas, adding up to an impressive $98.2 million worldwide gross. This is all the more impressive as A New Age became available on VOD on December 18.

In fourth was Screen Gems’ Monster Hunter, last week’s fleeting box-office champion. The action-packed, PG-13-rated, video game adaptation starring Milla Jovovich earned $1.1 million in its second weekend, scoring a $619 per-screen average in 1,817 theaters. Monster Hunter has made $4.2 million domestically to date and another $4.8 million internationally, equaling a worldwide box office total of $9 million.

Rounding out the Top 5 was another rookie, Focus Features’ Promising Young Woman, which came out of the gate to $680,000. A buzzy and controversial hit at Sundance, the R-rated revenge thriller starring Carey Mulligan snagged a $519 per-screen average in 1,310 theaters. It has not opened internationally yet.

The only other newcomer of note in the Top 10 was Roadside Attractions’Pinocchio, which landed in seventh place with $274,605. The PG-13-rated spin on the classic children’s tale starring Roberto Benigni as Geppetto scored a $359 per-screen average in 764 theaters. However, the film has played far stronger overseas where Benigni is more of a marquee draw, pulling in $20.5 million to date.