Wonder Woman 1984 has the movie world buzzing around the much-anticipated follow-up story about Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince. But just because folks have been itching to get their eyes on this film for quite some time, it doesn’t appear to be translating to a boost in box office sales in the short term. Early overseas numbers are coming in after the weekend release and things look pretty grim on that front.
According to Variety’s early reporting, Wonder Woman 1984 took in only $18.8 million in Chinese box office revenue this weekend. That number is less than half of what the original made in its opening weekend three years ago. There were many reasons for the studio to be pessimistic on box office projections this time around, but this number is most likely lower than even some of the most bearish best guesses. Some projected that number to look more like $60 million which means this is a major disappointment.
Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman was nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon. It crushed with critics sitting at 85% on the Tomatometer. And at the box office, it was nothing short of a worldbeater. The movie earned more than $820 million on a budget of around $150 million. A sequel was a foregone conclusion considering the hype and dollar signs.
And the early reviews of Wonder Woman 1984 made it appear we had another blockbuster on our hands. With the DC Universe gaining considerable traction of late around some high-flying initiatives, and just an overall rebooting of the universe in terms of the general direction and overall scope, this latest movie was seen as essentially kicking off a new phase. And it very well still might, but it just isn’t likely to come with the same monetary success as the original.
But while these recent Wonder Woman 1984 numbers aren’t all that encouraging, there is of course more than a little bit of context for why the film might be performing so poorly in the international market. For starters, even though it isn’t as stringent, there are still regulations in other countries around COVID-19 gatherings (theaters included) which will trend the box office numbers down across the board. Box office numbers are reported to be down around 30% in China this year.
Additionally, because Wonder Woman 1984 has been leading the charge in the new shift away from theaters and into streaming services, there could be some hesitancy around going to theaters early to see the film. Why trek to the movies when the flick is hitting HBO Max for users on Christmas Day, less than a week away? These two factors, which are tangentially related, likely dovetailed in such a way that would keep box office numbers down.
From that perspective, I don’t think we can look at Wonder Woman 1984 box office returns in the same light or comparatively to the original. There is simply too much other context. And like we said, the early buzz and excitement around the movie remain rather unchanged. It’s still looking every bit like a hit. It’s just a hit for a new normal in the movie universe in which box office numbers aren’t the arbiter of success.