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For those who thought stakes were high for Warner Bros. and the cinematic DC universe with the release of Wonder Woman, star Gal Gadot is carrying the weight of an entire nation on her shoulders.
Ever since the former Miss Israel was cast as the lasso-wielding superhero back in December 2013, the excitement and support for Gadot in Israel has been strong, some even say unprecedented.
Every single print, online and TV outlet has been positively covering the Wonder Woman press tour, with many portraying Gadot as an ambassador for the country. Many TV and red carpet appearances have been presented by the country’s media as major headline news.
“There is no one Israeli that is non-supportive,” wrote Israel Hayom newspaper columnist Adi Rubinstein this week. “Gadot is the leading Israeli product on TV all over the world right now — no format, idea or Israeli persona can successfully do what Gadot has been doing this past month.”
Israeli advertising tech startup Taykey, which tracks internet chatter, says that Gadot mentions online have been 95 percent positive, explaining that this means she is “unrivaled as the most loved Israeli in the world.” She also currently outranks Oscar winner and Jerusalem born Natalie Portman on top of IMDB’s ranking of most popular industry people born in Israel.
“Gal has been a household name in Israel for years, keeping her cool and down-to-earth persona, unlike many others, even when she became such a huge star,” says Guy Pines, who is known as one of Israel’s prime authorities in entertainment and host of entertainment and celebrity news show Erev Tov With Guy Pines. “Knowing how many others dream and work so hard to get there, you just can’t not love her and appreciate her amazing achievement. And pleaaassse try to pronounce her name right. Ga-dott!”
So how will the hometown love translate in terms of box office? Israeli insiders project Wonder Woman, which already started screening Wednesday night in select theaters, could pull in $1.8 million over the four-day weekend (roughly 6.5 million shekels), a mighty hefty debut locally that would be Warner Bros.’ strongest in years.
By comparison, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opened in Israel to $1.2 million in July 2011, while Gadot’s eagerly awaited introduction in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice racked in $1.1 million on its first weekend.
Yet it’s still a cool million dollars shy of April’s The Fate of the Furious’ huge opening weekend of $2.8 million, the biggest in years. The franchise, which previously featured Gadot, is considered a massive local favorite.
One factor counting against the new superhero movie in terms of Israeli box office are traditional religious people who abstain from watching movies with leading ladies, such as Wonder Woman.
While in New York for a press tour stop that had been moved from London after the May 22 Manchester Arena bombing, Gadot took to Instagram in her native Hebrew to share her excitement over a surprise she got from home in the form of Tel Aviv’s prominent Azrieli Center skyscrapers, which were lit up with the captions “Proud of you, Gal Gadot” and “Our Wonder Woman.”
“When my mom and dad sent this to me, I was sure they did it on a computer, and then I got another image from my cousin, good friend and a colleague and I realized it’s actually real,” she wrote. “Wow! No Words.” Added Gadot: “I’m giving thanks for everything, nothing is for granted, I wish I could reciprocate all the kindness and love back to the universe, a big thank you to everyone. ?”
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