Box Office: 'Wonder Woman 1984' Opens to Woeful $18.8M in China for $38.5M Foreign Start

Wonder Woman 1984
Warner Bros. Entertainment

Warner Bros.' 'Wonder Woman 1984' will debut on HBO Max and in theaters on Dec. 25 in the U.S.

The superhero sequel had hoped to clear at least $35 million in the Middle Kingdom, where the box office had made a major recovery from the novel coronavirus pandemic but is now showing signs of slowing down again.

Wonder Woman 1984 opened to an underwhelming $18.8 million in China, behind expectations and a less-than-wondrous start for WarnerMedia as it embarks on a bold plan to release its films both in theaters and on HBO Max.

The Warner Bros./DC superhero pic placed No. 2 behind The Rescue, a new Chinese film that debuted to an estimated $35 million.

In total, Wonder Woman 1984 opened to $38.5 million overseas as it began rolling out in 32 territories a week ahead of its Dec. 25  debut on HBO Max and in those cinemas that are still open amid the ongoing pandemic. That included $5 million from Imax theaters.

The first Wonder Woman (2017) debuted in China to $38 million on its way to a total haul of $90.5 million. At its current pace, the $200 million sequel, which reunites director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot, could struggle to earn much more than half of that total.

While the China box office had made a major comeback after being decimated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, analysts are seeing signs of softness again. A number of other countries — including many major European markets — have seen cinemas reclose in recent days because of a surge in cases (similar to the U.S.), further hampering the performance of the Wonder Woman follow-up.

Wonder Woman 1984 showed notable strength in the Middle East and Latin America, Warners said.

In China, the tentpole ended up facing tough competition from The Rescue, a follow-up to Operation Mekong (2016) and Operation Red Sea (2018), the latter of which earned a historic $575 million in China in 2018.

Most box office analysts had expected Wonder Woman 1984 to earn $40 million or more in its China bow. The sequel's slide in the Middle Kingdom is particularly disappointing since China is known for its affinity for superhero movies and was expected to be the title's largest theatrical market.

In North America, Paul W.S. Anderson's Monster Hunter, starring Milla Jovovich, topped another dismal weekend with an estimated $2.2 million debut, according to Sony, which is releasing the video game adaptation domestically. Monster Hunter also stars Ron Perlman.

Less than 37 percent of theaters in the U.S. are presently open, with many major moviegoing markets, including New York City and Los Angeles, off-limits.

Universal and DreamWorks Animation's The Croods: A New Age followed with an estimated $2 million in its fourth weekend for a domestic tally of $27 million and $84.5 million globally (the film could switch places with Monster Hunter and top the domestic chart when final Monday numbers are tallied).

Lionsgate's new thriller Fatale, starring Hilary Swank and Michael Ealy opened to $925,000.

With barely any new studio product, Christmas catalog perennials including Elf and The Polar Express populated the top 10-domestic chart.