Great Hera! ‘Won­der Woman’ de­buts with $100 mil­lion

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - BY JAKE COYLE

NEW YORK | “Won­der Woman” con­quered mile­stones and movie myths at North Amer­i­can the­aters, where the Patty Jenk­ins-di­rected su­per­hero film pow­ered its way to a $100.5 mil­lion de­but this week­end and be­came the big­gest block­buster ever di­rected by a woman.

The well-re­viewed movie eas­ily sur­passed in­dus­try ex­pec­ta­tions with one of the sum­mer’s big­gest de­buts, ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day. Star­ring Gal Gadot as the Ama­zo­nian warrior princess, “Won­der Woman” is the rare — and most suc­cess­ful — fe­male-led film in an over­whelm­ingly male su­per­hero land­scape.

It proved a hit with movie­go­ers, earn­ing an A Cine­maS­core. While skew­ing some­what fe­male, it drew a fairly evenly split au­di­ence. Warner Bros. said 52 per­cent of the au­di­ence was fe­male and 48 per­cent male. “Won­der Woman” added $122.5 mil­lion in­ter­na­tion­ally, in­clud­ing $38 mil­lion in China.

“It shows that su­per­hero movies aren’t just about men. They’re about women as well,” said Jeff Gold­stein, dis­tri­bu­tion chief for Warner Bros. “All the noise about Patty Jenk­ins break­ing the glass ceil­ing for di­rec­tors, I think that added to it as well.”

Women have long strug­gled to get be­hind the cam­era of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest pro­duc­tions. Fe­male di­rec­tors ac­counted for just 9 per­cent of the 250 top-gross­ing movies in North Amer­ica in 2015 and only 7 per­cent in 2016.

Ms. Jenk­ins, who pre­vi­ously di­rected 2003’s “Mon­ster” star­ring Char­l­ize Theron, now holds the record for big­gest do­mes­tic open­ing for a fe­male di­rec­tor. The previous mark was Sam Tay­lor-John­son’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” with $85.1 mil­lion in 2015.

Some still had is­sues with “Won­der Woman.” On­line crit­ics com­plained of gen­der in­equal­ity af­ter the Alamo Draft­house sched­uled a hand­ful of fe­male-only screen­ings across the coun­try. Le­banon banned the film be­cause Ms. Gadot is Is­raeli.

Nev­er­the­less, “Won­der Woman” rep­re­sents a turn­ing point for Warner Bros. and DC Comics, which have to­gether strug­gled in re­cent years to match the Marvel-Dis­ney jug­ger­naut. While “Won­der Woman” didn’t match the box-of­fice might of “Bat­man v. Su­per­man” (a $166 mil­lion open­ing) or “Sui­cide Squad” ($133.7 mil­lion), it was much bet­ter-re­ceived than those roundly de­rided re­leases.

“This is a dra­matic step in the right di­rec­tion,” Mr. Gold­stein said. “We’ve heard fans. We’ve heard crit­ics. These prop­er­ties are very com­pli­cated and beloved. To get it right, it takes a lot of work. I think on this movie, all of us got it right.”

Last week’s top film, “Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” slid dra­mat­i­cally to $21.6 mil­lion in its sec­ond week. It landed in third place, be­hind Fox’s “Cap­tain Un­der­pants: The First Epic Movie.” The an­i­mated re­lease, in which a pair of stu­dents makes their prin­ci­pal think he’s a su­per­hero by hyp­no­tiz­ing him, opened with $23.5 mil­lion.

But “Pi­rates” still sails well overseas. It’s made $386.6 mil­lion in­ter­na­tion­ally, driv­ing the Dis­ney se­quel to more than $500 mil­lion glob­ally.

The suc­cess of “Won­der Woman” gave the sum­mer box of­fice a much-needed charge. Thus far, the sea­son’s only block­buster has been its first: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” It’s made $355.5 mil­lion in North Amer­ica and $816.6 mil­lion world­wide.

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