Entertainment

Wonder Woman conquers milestone with $103M debut

Wonder Woman conquered milestones and movie myths at North American theaters, where the Patty Jenkins-directed superhero film powered its way to a $103 million US debut this weekend and became the biggest blockbuster ever directed by a woman.

Patty Jenkins has set a new record for biggest domestic opening for a female director

Well-reviewed Wonder Woman easily surpassed industry expectations with one of the summer's biggest debuts. 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. (Clay Enos/DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Wonder Woman conquered milestones and movie myths at North American theaters, where the Patty Jenkins-directed superhero film powered its way to a $103 million US debut this weekend and became the biggest blockbuster ever directed by a woman.

Warner Bros. revised revised the film's weekend estimate up to $103.1 million US from its earlier figure of $100.5 million US. The studio said Monday that the tickets sold on Sunday turned out to be even higher than it estimated over the weekend.

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 shows that superhero movies aren't just about men. They're about women as well.- Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.

It proved a hit with moviegoers, earning a CinemaScore of A. 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 US internationally, including $38 million US 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 per cent of the 250 top-grossing movies in North America in 2015 and only 7 per cent in 2016.

Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has set a new record for biggest domestic opening for a female director. (Clay Enos/DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Entertainment)

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 US 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 in the U.S. Lebanon banned the film because Gadot is Israeli.

A turning point for DC?

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," 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 US 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 make their principal think he's a superhero by hypnotizing him, opened with $23.5 million US.

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

Wonder Woman's stellar opening weekend success 'saves the day, at least for now, for the summer box office, according to Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. (Clay Enos/DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. Pictures)

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 has made $355.5 million US in North America and $816.6 million US worldwide.

Wonder Woman, though, pushed the week's box office up 30 per cent over the same week last year, according to comScore.

"This saves the day, at least for now, for the summer box office," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. "Heading into this weekend, the summer movie season was down about 9 per cent, and that deficit has been cut by about half in this one weekend."

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