Wonder Woman about to be No. 1 DC film in U.S. box office

Wonder Woman poster

Wonder Woman is on the verge of being the No. 1 DC Extended Universe movie at the U.S. box office.

The film’s U.S. box office totaled $325,083,830 as of June 27, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

That means Wonder Woman likely will pass 2016’s Suicide Squad ($325,100,054) today. Next up, also from 2016, is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which had U.S. box office of $330,360,194.

The DCEU began with 2013’s Man of Steel, which had U.S. box office of $291,045,518.

Wonder Woman’s global office still lags the other three DCEU films.

The movie’s worldwide total was $660,883,830 as of June 27.

It’s getting close to Man of Steel’s global box office ($668,045,518). Meanwhile the worldwide numbers were $873,260,194 for Batman v Superman and $745,600,054 for Suicide Squad.

Wonder Woman has been a lift for Warner Bros. Both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad received many bad reviews. That wasn’t the case for Wonder Woman, which has a 92 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

In the U.S., Wonder Woman hasn’t had the quick box office dropoff experienced by the two 2016 DC movies.

UPDATE (June 30): Wonder Woman surpassed Batman v Superman in U.S. box office on June 29, according to a post by Scott Mendelson on Forbes.com. Its U.S. box office total was $330,529,475 as of June 29, according to Box Office Mojo.

Wonder Woman 2d weekend bests other DC movies

Wonder Woman poster

Wonder Woman, during its second weekend in the U.S., outperformed two 2016 Warner Bros./DC movies.

Wonder Woman’s U.S.-Canada box office totaled $58.2 million for the June 9-11 weekend, according to the Box Office Mojo website. That was a 43 percent decline compared with its opening weekend. That’s a smaller dropoff compared with most films.

By comparison, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a second weekend of $51.3 million (a 69 percent plunge from opening weekend). Suicide Squad’s second weekend totaled $43.5 million (a 67 percent drop).

Both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad opened better than Wonder Woman. But bad reviews and word of mouth contributed to their fast declines at the box office.

By contrast, Wonder Woman received a lot of rave reviews. In March, there were estimates it would have a $65 million opening weekend. It came in at $103.3 million.

As a result, Warner Bros. received a lift as it competes with Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios. The question is whether the good mojo will carry over to Justice League, set to be released in November.

 

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 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.”

The DC Comics movie jinx may have been extended

Batman v Superman poster

Batman v Superman poster

In the space of about an hour, the internet flared up when Variety reported that Ben Affleck won’t direct a Batman solo film as well as starring in it.

The question is whether this marks another extension of the seeming jinx surround the DC Comics movie universe.

Variety quoted from a statement from the actor and studio Warner Bros. that said it was a joint decision for Affleck to concentrate on acting in the movie.

“It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require,” Affleck said in the statement. “Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film.”

It didn’t take long for stories to emerge saying the situation was more complicated.

Affleck was star-writer-director of Live by Night, a period gangster drama that bombed. The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the subject had this passage.

One insider says that Live By Night’s poor performance caused Affleck to rethink his approach to his projects after the film bombed with just $18.9 million at the box office.

Two DC Comics-based movies (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad) were Nos. 8 and 9 in the U.S. and Nos. 7 and 10 globally, according to Box Office Mojo. Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman was in both.

Yet, both movies got terrible reviews. And despite Batman v. Superman generating $873.3 million worldwide, it was considered a disappointment that it didn’t have $1 billion in box office. Meanwhile, rival Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War broke through the billion-dollar mark.

DC/Warners has been doing a mid-course correction, promoting Geoff Johns, a veteran comic book writer, into a key position for the films.

Johns has promised more optimism in the DC movies compared with Batman v. Superman, where Batman spent much of the film trying to kill Superman. Johns and Affleck co-wrote the script for the solo Batman effort, titled simply The Batman.

Warners is releasing two more DC-based movies this year with Wonder Woman and Justice League. There has been a lot of buzz about The Batman, including how it was being moved ahead of a planned Justice League sequel, according to Digital Spy and other outlets.

The studio has a lot riding on its DC Comics movies. As a result, the films are getting a lot of scrutiny. Other planned films have had delays, but Batman is the flagship.

Until The Batman signs a new director and begins filming, people are going to wonder if DC/Warners is ever going to match Marvel’s film success.

UPDATED: MGM’s possible studio partners for Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Back in April, the blog took a look at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s potential studio partners for Bond 25.

Well, no decision has been reached (or at least announced) since then, but there have been developments among the studios. So here’s an updated look at the studios that may co-finance and distribute the next James Bond film.

Sony (the incumbent): Sony Pictures, through its Columbia Pictures brand, has released the last four Bond films but its most recent contract expired with SPECTRE.

Sony’s share of the Bond profits were paltry the past two films. New leadership took over the studio and Amy Pascal, the executive who negotiated that deal, is gone.

Still, it may be the case that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sony this summer tried to revive Ghostbusters, this time featuring four women ghostbusters. (Pascal was one of the producers.) The Hollywood Reporter said in an August story that the new film is on track to lose $70 million and that a sequel is unlikely.

Sony and Marvel Studios are working together on a new Spider-Man movie (with Marvel in creative control). But Sony remains in need of a movie “franchise.”

Radar Online, an entertainment and gossip website, this weekend RAN A POST saying that Sony “should be announcing any day that the studio is re-upping the distribution rights for the Bond series.” Further, it says Sony (it doesn’t mention MGM) is offering Daniel Craig, 48, $150 million to do two more Bond movies.

We’ll slap the Caveat Emptor label on that. One of Sony’s problems with the last two 007 movies is, while they generated $2 billion in worldwide box office, the studio was third in line (behind MGM and Eon Productions) in getting money despite putting up half of the large production budgets.

Paying your leading man $75 million per movie isn’t going to help studio profitability. But we’ll see what happens. Regardless, Sony’s interest in Bond likely remains high, especially after this summer’s Ghostbusters movie.

Warner Bros.: The studio has its hands full with its slate of movies featuring DC Comics characters.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the No. 5 movie worldwide so far this year at $872.7 million. Another DC-based movie, Suicide Squad, featuring villains forced to work for the government, is No. 8 worldwide at $643.4 million.

Most studios would love such a result, but “Mr. Warner” was hoping for more than $1 billion for Batman v Superman. Rival Marvel Studios, part of Walt Disney Co., is No. 1 for 2016 at $1.15 billion for Captain America: Civil War.

Still, the studio isn’t backing down, with a movie version of the Justice League in the works for 2017, picking up where Batman v Superman left off. Does the studio have the bandwidth to also co-finance Bond films?

Paramount: When last we looked in on Paramount, there was a lot of turmoil at its parent company, Viacom.

Well, that soap opera reached a resolution last month, including the forced departure of Paramount chief Philippe Dauman. That raises the question whether new leadership at the studio can mount an effort to strike a deal with MGM.

Paramount co-financed and released MGM’s Ben-Hur remake, which reached theaters last month. The movie bombed, apparently the answer to a question audiences weren’t asking.

20th Century Fox: Not much has changed here. Fox has a deal with MGM to handle home video distribution of Bond movies.

 

Memo to studios: Get your costs under control

Poster for SPECTRE, one of a series of overpriced movies.

Poster for SPECTRE, one of a series of overpriced movies.

The other day, this blog published a post about how SPECTRE spent too much for at least two scenes. But the 24th James Bond film isn’t unique in that regard.

Things have gotten crazy as studios pursue a “tentpole” strategy of a few expensive films that support their entire film slates.

A more recent film, the comic book-based Suicide Squad from Warner Bros., debuted earlier this month and has worldwide box office of more than $480 million to date.

Thursday on Twitter, two entertainment news writers, Jeff Snider of Mashable and Scott Mendelson of Forbes.com, posted about whether Suicide Squad should be considered a hit if it tops out at around $600 million.

Before we take a closer look, let that figure sink in. People are seriously debating whether a movie based on a comic book unknown to most of the general public is or isn’t a hit after generating $600 MILLION in ticket sales.

Anyway, here’s the gist of the posts about Suicide Squad.
 

Granted, there is a difference between whether something is popular and whether it turns a profit for its studio.

The classic example is 1963’s Cleopatra, which sold an estimated 67.2 million tickets in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Box Office Mojo website. That’s in the same neighborhood as Goldfinger’s 66.3 million in the region.

Despite that, Cleopatra is remembered as a movie that nearly bankrupted its studio (20th Century Fox) while Goldfinger is remembered as a huge hit. Then again, Goldfinger had a budget ($3 million in 1964) that ensured profits while Cleopatra couldn’t cover its costs despite being seen by a lot of people paying for theater tickets.

In the 21st century, the decimal places have shifted but the lesson remains the same. It’s in the interests of filmmakers and studios not to spend for the sake of spending.

It’s absurd that a movie has to surpass $1 billion to be considered a hit. It’s also borders on the irresponsible.

Even with inflated ticket prices, there have been only 26 movies all time that have $1 billion or more in global box office. Yes, that’s not adjusted for inflation. Regardless, selling $1 billion in movie tickets is hard. Very hard.

In our post about SPECTRE, we detailed two scenes (a car chase and an explosion) where spending a lot of money appeared to be point, not story telling or dramatic choices. But SPECTRE isn’t alone.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, ended its theatrical run with global box office of almost $873 million. Yet, it’s seen as a disappointment for not making the $1 billion mark because, gosh, any movie with Batman and Superman should have been a cinch to make $1 billion.

None of this is new. Go even further back and directors such as D.W. Griffith and Erich Von Stroheim got into trouble for overly expensive movies for their day. Clint Eastwood, as he transitioned into directing, witnessed ridiculous spending for the 1969 musical Paint Your Wagon. As a result, Eastwood has made acclaimed films as a director but he’s also known for efficiency.

Decimal places change, but the lesson doesn’t. Movies have always been a balance between art and commerce. Studios can, and should, watch their spending. It’s still possible to make good films on a budget.

That doesn’t mean cheap spending. Movies like SPECTRE and Batman v Superman can’t be done on the cheap. But it calls for smart spending.