Wonder Woman scores a $103.3M opening weekend

Wonder Woman poster

UPDATE (June 5): Wonder Woman’s opening weekend was actually better than the estimate released on Sunday. The movie’s box office take in the U.S. and Canada was $103.3 million, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

ORIGINAL POST (June 4): Wonder Woman, after generating good reviews, also scored at the box office.

The film, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins, will have an estimated $100.5 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, according to Variety.

It’s the biggest opening of a film from a woman director. The previous record was $85 million for Fifty Shades of Grey, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, over the Feb. 13-15, 2015 weekend, according to Deadline: Hollywood.

The results provide a lift for Warner Bros. and its DC Comics unit. Last year, two of the studio’s superhero entries, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were savaged by critics. Bad reviews may have contributed to quick falloffs in ticket sales for both movies.

The two films had larger openings than Wonder Woman. Batman v Superman totaled $166 million in its opening weekend and Suicide Squad $133.7 million.

However, Wonder Woman was a solo adventure while Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad featured multiple characters.

Batman v Superman included Gadot’s Wonder Woman as well as short appearances by other characters who will be part of Justice League, coming out in November. Suicide Squad featured villains forced to work for the U.S. government and also had an appearance by Ben Affleck’s Batman.

Wonder Woman breaks the superhero movie glass ceiling

Wonder Woman poster

Appropriately, it was Wonder Woman who broke the glass ceiling of superhero movies.

If anyone doubted it, star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins showed women are more than capable of carrying a superhero epic on their shoulders.

The movie also provides a much-needed lift to Warner Bros.’s franchise of films based on DC Comics characters.

Movies such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad opened big but fell off quickly amid sour reviews and bad word of mouth.

Wonder Woman likelywon’t open as big in the box office. It spotlights a single character, unlike Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. But it appears to be enjoying good word of mouth and absolutely is getting good reviews, with a “fresh” rating above 90 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Superhero movies have been something of a boys club. You’d occasionally get something like 2005’s Elektra with Jennifer Garner. However, it has been a male-dominated genre. Marvel Studios has featured Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in several movies, but she’s either been part off a group or a supporting character.

Meanwhile, things are simply more interesting with a Warner Bros./DC Comic movies that’s not being lambasted for being crummy. Marvel has been on a roll but it could use some competition to keep it on its toes.

In tone, Wonder Woman is somewhat similar to Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger fro 2011. Both feature characters who come of age in a war setting. (Wonder Woman’s origin story is set in World War I, unlike the original comics which were set in World War II.)

Wonder Woman is by no means a copy of that Marvel film. But Wonder Woman, like the first Captain America movie, lays the groundwork for more to come.

Wonder Woman receives surge of rave reviews

Wonder Woman poster

Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman movie has received a surge of positive reviews, a big change from the usual pattern for the studio’s superhero films.

The movie starring Gal Gadot as the title character has an early score of 97 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website, with 60 positive reviews and two negative ones.

That’s a huge change compared with the 28 percent score for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and 25 percent for Suicide Squad.

Gadot’s Wonder Woman was part of Batman v Superman (set in the present day). Wonder Woman, which comes out Friday, is set in World War I, a revision from the original comics stories, which were set in World War II.

Warners’ movies based on DC Comics characters have generated business at the box office, but not as much as many of the films released by rival Marvel Studios, part of of Walt Disney Co.

“Mr. Warner” wants to improve the reception of its DC-based movies. In any case, here’s a sampling (spoilers excluded) of some of the early reviews.

PETER TRAVERS, ROLLING STONE: “The good news is that this big-screen outing for William Moulton Marston’s creation is that it leaves the cornball 1970’s TV series with Lynda Carter in the dust and is leagues better than Suicide Squad, the last DC Extended Universe movie to stink up the multiplex. And like she proved in her extended cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, dynamo Israeli actress Gal Gadot owns the role, her body-beautiful forged with feminist fire. She really is all that. The movie? It’s nowhere near what it needs to be to give the actor and the character the resonant sendoff both deserve.”

ALISON WILLMORE, BUZZFEED: “What’s striking about her turn in the spotlight in Wonder Woman, beyond its milestone status as a female-centric studio superhero feature directed by a woman, is the movie’s sense of elated lightness….It’s a saga, written by Allan Heinberg, with a decent sense of humor, which any story prominently featuring Zeus and a Lasso of Truth demand.”

RICHARD ROEPER, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: “Gal Gadot shines in the title role. Diana is sweet and sexy and clever and intense, and she moves with the grace and power of a superhero gymnast (among other skills).”

CATH CLARKE, TIME OUT LONDON: “Unlike Batman, Wonder Woman is not plagued by doomy angst. She’s good and kind, with a strong moral compass. A complex female character? Not exactly. But Gadot (who is ex-army and knows her way round a fight sequence) never lets her become bland and simpering.”

STEVE ROSE, THE GUARDIAN:Those hoping a shot of oestrogen would generate a new kind of comic-book movie – and revive DC’s faltering movie universe – might need to lower their expectations… What promised to be a glass-ceiling-smashing blockbuster actually looks more like a future camp classic.”

Joss Whedon takes over post-production for Justice League

Justice League movie logo

Joss Whedon, who directed two Avengers movies for Marvel Studios, is overseeing Justice League during post-production, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

That’s because director Zack Snyder and his wife, producer Deborah Snyder are taking time off to “deal with the sudden death of his daughter.”

The Snyders, according to THR, are focusing on “the healing of their family.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Stepping in to shepherd the movie through post and the shooting of some additional scenes will be Joss Whedon, the Avengers filmmaker and creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. With Whedon’s help, the movie is still on track for its Nov. 17 release date.

Snyder’s daughter, Autumn Snyder, died by suicide in March at age 20. Her death has been kept private, with only a small inner circle aware of what happened, even as the movie was put on a two-week break for the Snyders to deal with the immediate effects of the tragedy.

Justice League is a follow-up to last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Justice League is the main super hero group of DC Comics. The league made its debut in 1959 (and was a successor to the 1940s Justice Society of America).

“The demands of this job are pretty intense,” Snyder told THR. “It is all consuming. And in the last two months I’ve come to the realization …I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me.”

According to the entertainment news website, “Snyder, after screening a rough cut of Justice League for fellow filmmakers and friends, wanted to add additional scenes, so he brought Whedon on board to write them.

“But as he prepared to shoot the scenes in England, Snyder realized it was not the time to leave home.”

Rich Buckler, comic book artist, dies at 68

Rich Buckler

Rich Buckler, part of the second-generation of Marvel Comics artists, has died, according to an announcement by Marvel on Twitter. He was 68.

In the 1970s, writers and artists who had been fans a decade earlier, were brought on by Marvel. Buckler was among them, as well as artists such as George Perez and writers such as Len Wein, Marv Wolfman and Steve Gerber.

Buckler, during the 1970s. was the artist on the Fantastic Four, the title that began the Marvel revival in 1961. Buckler also created a cyborg character, Deathlok, as well as doing work for DC Comics, according to the Bleeding Cool website.

Cover to Fantastic Four (vol. 1, No. 142), drawn by Rich Buckler

In the 1970s, Marvel was in transition. Stan Lee moved to an executive position. Jack Kirby, who created or co-created much of the Marvel Comics Universe, was away. Roy Thomas, initially Stan’s successor as editor-in-chef, would soon give up the post.

During this time, younger talent took on many of Marvel’s main titles.

Sean Howe, author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, provides many more details in his book. Suffice to say, former fans were now actually coming up with the new stories that would sustain Marvel.

Buckler (born in 1949 in Detroit) was among those newcomers who made a mark. The Fantastic Four was among Marvel’s flagship titles, and in 1974 (13 years after the FF’s debut) Buckler was its artist.

His run on the FF lasted about two years. Still, it was a sign that Marvel — and comics in general — were now in the hands of a new generation.

The stakes for the Wonder Woman movie

Wonder Woman poster

Up until now, the 21st century boom of comic book-based movies has been something of a boys club.

Women super heroes show up as part of groups (The Avengers films, Iron Man II, Captain America: Civil War). But studios haven’t entrusted a woman character to be the unquestioned lead.

That changes early next month with Wonder Woman, with the title character played by Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins.

It’s the latest effort by Warner Bros. to establish its own “cinematic universe” of DC Comics characters. Gadot’s Wonder Woman made her debut in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and was one of the best parts of that often gloomy movie.

Over at Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios, the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has been prominent in a number of movies but hasn’t carried one by herself. The studio has a Captain Marvel movie scheduled for 2019.

So for a while, it’s up to Wonder Woman, a character who has been around since the early 1940s. She’s considered one of DC’s “big three” (Batman and Superman being the others), but hasn’t gotten the motion picture treatment the way her other two colleagues have.

The new movie is set during World War I, rather than World War II as in the original comics. Based on trailers and television commercials, it appears Wonder Woman may be lighter in tone than recent Warner Bros./DC films, but that may or may not be misleading.

Some critics are questioning whether Warner Bros. is supporting Wonder Woman enough as her solo film nears.

“Warner Bros. has been weirdly reticent about the marketing campaign for one of the most iconic superheroes in the world,” wrote Donna Dickens in Uproxx.

“So what’s a Wonder Woman fan to do in the face of this deflated balloon noise of a marketing push?” Dickens added. “Be a champion for Diana. Tell your friends the movie comes on June 2, 2017. Buy tickets. Show up. Because right now Warner Bros. is trying — intentionally or not — to bury the Amazon Princess and it’s up to us to make sure they fail.”

The Washington Post this week weighed in on the issue.

“With only weeks remaining until release, more ‘Wonder Woman’ ads should be coming soon regardless,” according to the Post. “Whether you believe the advertising has been plentiful or lacking, one thing hasn’t changed: Many are counting on this movie to bring new life to the future of DC Comics on film.”

So far, the “DC Extended Universe” (or DCEU as its known) have had the kind of box office most other films would love. But they’re expensive undertakings and haven’t gotten the kind of good reviews (and even bigger box office) most Marvel films get.

We’ll see whether Wonder Woman can reverse that trend.

Justice League trailer debuts

Justice League movie logo

Warner Bros. unveiled its first Justice League trailer today and it appears to address criticism that its DC superhero movies are too dark and dreary.

For example, this movie’s version of Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons) tells Ben Affleck’s Batman, “It’s good to see you playing well with others again.” There are a few one liners in the trailer as well.

Warners began its “DC universe” with 2013’s Man of Steel. While the movies haven’t bombed by any means, none of the films have exceeded the $1 billion mark the way some Marvel Studios films (two Avengers films, Iron Man 3 and Captain America: Civil War) have.

Last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was intended by the studio to reach the $1 billion level. It generated global box office of $873.3 million.

That’s more than respectable but was considered disappointing in that it featured the three biggest starts of DC Comics, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It also had an estimated budget of $250 million, so the studio needs big box office.

For those interested, take a look. Justice League debuts in November.