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Director Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman — which has earned rapturous reviews — is expected to chase away the doldrums at the early summer box office with a North American debut of $95 million or more, according to prerelease tracking.
The female-centric tentpole likewise debuts in most major markets overseas, including China. Bullish box-office observers believe Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot as the marquee superhero and Amazonian princess Diana, will lasso well north of $100 million internationally. The movie opened to $6.3 million in a handful of Asian markets on Tuesday and Wednesday — excluding China — scoring among the best starts ever for a Warner Bros. release, according to the studio.
In North America, Warner Bros. is being more conservative and suggesting a $65 million to $70 million debut, considering tracking has been unreliable as of late. On Thursday night, Wonder Woman earned a strong $11 million in previews, on par with the first Guardians of the Galaxy.
But if tracking is right, Wonder Woman could land the biggest domestic opening ever for a female director, primarily because very few women have been given the chance to helm a Hollywood tentpole. It would also be a morale boost for Hollywood following the worst Memorial Day weekend in 18 years, thanks to a number of underperforming summer event pics.
Wonder Woman currently sports a stellar 94 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Warners and DC Entertainment need a critical victory in the superhero space after Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) were largely snubbed by critics.
The film marks the first time Wonder Woman has received her own big-screen adaptation. (Gadot did appear in Dawn of Justice.)
Hollywood grew skittish about making female superhero films after both Catwoman (2004) and Elektra (2005) flopped. Wonder Woman languished for years in development before Jenkins was brought aboard to direct from a script by Allan Heinberg. The film opens as World War I pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and his plane crash on Themyscira, the island of the Amazons, where Diana has been trained by her aunt, the great warrior Antiope (Robin Wright). Soon, Diana leaves the island to try and stop the war, marking the beginning of her transformation into Wonder Woman.
Superhero films generally skew male, but tracking for Wonder Woman suggests both sexes are equally interested, or nearly, in seeing the movie, which cost $150 million to make and also stars Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Elena Anaya.
Among its first international returns this week, Wonder Woman has earned $1.3 million in Taiwan, surpassing the openings of such superhero pics as Man of Steel, Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange, Thor and both Guardians of the Galaxy films, among others. In North Korea, it debuted to $1.2 million.
The weekend’s other new offering, DreamWorks Animation’s Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, is targeting younger tots. The animated film is tracking to open in the $25 million range after costing a modest $38 million to produce. It earned $650,000 in Thursday night previews from 2,550 locations. Today, Captain Underpants moves into a total of 3,434 cinemas.
Based on the popular book series, Captain Underpants tells the tale of two fourth-grade troublemakers (voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) who hypnotize their mean principal (Ed Helms) into thinking he’s Captain Underpants, a hero from a comic book. The movie’s characters also include Professor Pippy P. Poopypants (Nick Kroll) and a school snitch named Melvin Sneedly (Jordan Peele).
Captain Underpants is the final DWA title that Fox will release before Universal assumes marketing and distribution duties on all DWA movies.
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