Who Braved Seeing 'Wonder Woman 1984' in Theaters Amid the Pandemic

Wonder Woman 1984
Warner Bros. Entertainment

Gal Gadot and Chris Pine in 'Wonder Woman 1984'

The superhero sequel debuted to $16.7 million domestically at the Christmas box office, the best showing since the pandemic began despite continued cinema closures in many major markets.

Usually, Hollywood studios don't tout Christmas grosses for Honolulu theaters in a major way.

This year — as with all things during the novel coronavirus pandemic — that wasn't the case. The Victoria Ward Stadium in Oahu's capital city was the N0. 2-grossing theater for Wonder Woman 1984, which opened to an estimated $16.7 million domestically from 2,150 cinemas over Christmas weekend, while also debuting at the same time on HBO Max in the U.S.

While that's the best box office opening since coronavirus struck — passing up The Croods: A New Age ($9.7 million) and Tenet ($9.4 million) — it pales in comparison to the $103 million domestic debut of 2017's Wonder Woman. Still, it was a much-needed win for Hollywood and exhibition amid ongoing theater closures in many parts of North America.

The superhero sequel reteams director-writer Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot, who went along with Warner Bros.' plan to announce on Sunday that development of a third film is being fast-tracked, although it could be years away because of Jenkins' other commitments — namely, a Star Wars movie set for release at the end of 2023. Jenkins and Gadot also have Cleopatra in development at Paramount.

The No. 1-grossing theater for WW84 was the District Megaplex in Salt Lake City. Utah, Florida and Texas have been a haven for indoor cinemas in recent months as the country's top 10 major moviegoing markets remain off-limits, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Other top locations for the superhero sequel included AMC Disney Springs, Orlando; Jordan Commons Megaplex, Salt Lake City; Santikos Palladium, San Antonio; Thanksgiving Point Lehi Megaplex, Salt Lake City; 7 Cinemark West Jordan, Salt Lake City; AMC Thoroughbred, Nashville; Santikos Casa Blanca, San Antonio; and Geneva Vineyard Megaplex, Salt Lake City.

The top 10 greater metropolitan area markets were Dallas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Houston, the greater New York metro area (including New Jersey, Connecticut and upstate New York theaters), Orlando, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami and Austin.

Across the country, there were more than 10,000 private watch parties, according to Warners.

Other tidbits: In Canada, where only 5 percent of theaters are open, Warner Bros. quietly offered the movie on premium VOD, which generated an $4 million in revenue, the studio reported.

In terms of demos, the movie skewed slightly female (52 percent) on Friday and Saturday, but ended up even by the end of the weekend, according to PostTrak. Nearly 60 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25, including 36 percent over the age of 35. Audiences didn't like the sequel as much as the first, giving it a B+ CinemaScore, versus an A.

Globally, the DC superhero sequel has now earned $85 million at the box office, including a foreign tally of $68.3 million. As in the U.S., there are a number of theater reclosures across Europe and other regions. (One territory that has rebounded is China, although WW84 hasn't found its footing in the Middle Kingdom, where it finished Sunday with a lowly 10-day total of $23.9 million.)

International highlights include Australia, where Jenkins' film opened to $4.5 million, well ahead of the 2017 film. In India, it debuted at No. 1, beating out three local films and coming in on par with Wonder Woman.

Imax and other premium formats did big business, generating $2.2 million globally.

"As fans around the world continue to embrace Diana Prince, driving the strong opening weekend performance of Wonder Woman 1984, we are excited to be able to continue her story with our real-life Wonder Women — Gal and Patty — who will return to conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy," Warner Bros. movie chief Toby Emmerich said in a Sunday statement.

Emmerich and fellow colleagues at Warner Bros. and WarnerMedia have come under fire for announcing that they are sending the studio's entire 2021 theatrical slate at the same time to HBO Max. The decision has sparked fury across Hollywood. For their part, Warner execs say they believe the box office won't recover from the pandemic until the end of next year.

HBO Max didn't give any numbers for WW84 except to say that nearly half of the platform’s retail subscribers viewed the film on the day of its arrival, along with millions of wholesale subscribers who have access to HBO Max via cable, wireless or other partner services. At the end of the third quarter, the streamer had 28.7 million subs.