From the most problematic hero of all times to box office salvation? The most important superhero movie of our times is opening, and, as always, Wonder Woman is a lens for many people to air their own ideas about what is a hero, what is a woman, what is a hero woman and who can see movies about hero womans. The early reviews are excellent so everyone at Titans Tower is breathing a big sigh of relief. Variety is even wondering “Can ‘Wonder Woman’ Save the Summer Box Office?”
It will most likely do its part, as current projections for the Warner Bros. film’s domestic opening weekend stand north of $100 million. That’s far above the studio’s more conservative estimate between $65 million and $75 million. Overseas, the movie should score as well — its worldwide grosses by the end of the weekend may exceed $175 million.
For a parched summer, those are refreshing estimates for the latest DC Comics installment, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot. The opening expectations are still below the first weekends of other DC Comics films, including two critically maligned, but profitable 2016 releases: “Suicide Squad” ($133.6 million) and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” ($166 million). “Wonder Woman,” meanwhile, has the critical community on its side — it currently holds a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While WW isn’t expected to save a summer of box office flops by itself, Kevin Tsujihara must be emitting relief-laden sighs at regular intervals.
Of course, there’s also the little matter of this being the first big budget superhero movie to be directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, and the trades are filled with wonder over how this inexperienced director was able to pull off making a whole entire movie!
“I can’t take on the history of 50 percent of the population just because I’m a woman,” says Jenkins, bristling when asked about the heavy responsibility of directing Wonder Woman, the most expensive film ever shot by a person with two XX chromosomes (its $150 million budget surpasses Kathryn Bigelow’s $100 million K-19: The Widowmaker). “I’m just trying to make the greatest version of Wonder Woman that I can for the people who love the character as much as I do and hope that the movie lives up to all the pressure that’s on it.”
And that pressure is superhuman, to be sure. When the biggest female-centered comic book movie ever premiered at the Pantages Theatre in L.A. on May 25 (it goes wide June 2), it was Jenkins’ name leading the credits. That would be nerve-wracking enough even for a director with lots of experience working on big-budget superhero movies. But aside from the pilot of AMC’s The Killing and occasional gigs on other high-profile TV shows — shooting episodes of Arrested Development and a couple for Entourage — Jenkins’ biggest accomplishment (indeed, her only big-screen feature) was 2003’s Monster, the indie drama about a female serial killer that earned critical raves and Charlize Theron a best actress Oscar.
Of course, as io9 points out, countless male directors have gone on to direct big budget features after a tiny debut film and no one thinks twice because that’s what men do! It’s hard to imagine a male director making an acclaimed movie about a female serial killer than won a Best Actress Oscar and not getting another movie gig out of it for 14 years, but there you have the Hollywood double standard. A good opportunity for the lasso of truth, one would think.
All that aside, this looks to be an internal triumph for the DC Films unit of Jon Berg and Geoff Johns (who co-wrote the film). Many have praised the film’s unabashedly HEROIC take on being a hero, so that could be a refreshing change in direction for DCs gloomy recent film output. There seems to be a lingering suspicion within WB of any superhero movie that isn’t dark and edgy (somethign Green Lantern did nothing to dispel) but maybe this will break the mold. And people suddenly seem to be excited about DC’s upcoming film slate, instead of dreading future Martha moments. Screen Rant has a full round-up of all the rumors and guesses. Matthew Vaughn Flash? Sounds good to me.
One of my new favorites, the movie industry analysis newsletter The Ankler, has prime snark on the much discussed marketing:
Or…will it suddenly occur to them that, you know, in the final analysis of selling movies – quality schmality – it’s marketing that fills those seats. As the NYT reported last time Warners had anything to celebrate:
“Kong: Skull Island,” starring Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston beside various computer-generated creatures, benefited from strong reviews and word of mouth. Jeff Goldstein, Warner’s president of domestic distribution, also credited the studio’s promotional machinery. “Our marketing was brilliant,” he said. “It made it look like popcorn — fun and exciting.”
A week ago, no marketing power on earth could’ve lured a sucker into Arthur, but expect to hear plenty in the coming days about the sheer genius of putting a picture of Wonder Woman on the Wonder Woman poster and the prophetic insight that Pirates would fall off in its second weekend.
Then there’s the matter of the all-female screening and the predictable crybaby snowflake redpill backlash and moaning and…frankly, I’m not entirely on board with all-lady screenings, although I have no issue with it either. As I mentioned in my TCAF coverage, as author Shannon Hale put it, we need to make it clear that “This is about girls” doesn’t mean “this is FOR girls.” Wonder Woman needs to be for everyone. Tracking says everyone is on board so far, so fingers crossed. I’m running around at BEX/BookCon for the next few days so not sure when I’ll be able to see it, but I can tell you this: we’re in for some hot takes!