The North American preview number for the Warner Bros. tentpole is the third-largest for 2017, trailing only Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” at $17 million, and “Beauty and the Beast,” with $16.3 million.
Fox’s animated children’s comedy “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” grossed $650,000 from about 2,550 location during Thursday night previews.
Recent projections for “Wonder Woman’s” domestic launch have been in the $100 million-plus range at 4,165 locations for the Friday-Sunday period. That’s far above the studio’s more conservative estimate in the $80 million range.
“Wonder Woman” is the fourth installment in the studio’s DC Extended Universe, which launched with 2013’s “Man of Steel” with an opening weekend of $116.6 million, followed by last year’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with $166 million and “Suicide Squad” with $133.6 million. “Wonder Woman,” made for about $150 million, is critically acclaimed, with a 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Moviegoers praised “Wonder Woman,” with 85% giving it an “excellent” or “very good” ranking, according to a comScore/Screen Engine PostTrak audience survey. A total of 39% said they were watching the movie because of the franchise; 53% were there for the superhero genre; and an impressive 31% attended due to Gadot. The survey also showed that the audience was evenly split in terms of gender, while most superhero tentpoles skew male.
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The film is directed by Patty Jenkins and marks her second feature following 2003’s “Monster,” for which Charlize Theron won a best actress Academy Award. “Wonder Woman” is set against the backdrop of World War I with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor crashing on an island in the Amazons, where Gadot’s Princess Diana has been trained by her aunt Antiope, portrayed by Robin Wright. The duo then leave the island to try to stop the war.
The weekend’s only other major opening is “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie,” projected to earn between $25 million and $30 million at 3,434 locations. Based on Dav Pilkey’s children’s books about two young pranksters who hypnotize their principal into thinking that he has superpowers, the DreamWorks Animation production features the voices of Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, and Thomas Middleditch.
“Wonder Woman” is opening with overall North American ticket sales for the year up about 1.3% to $4.57 billion, thanks to the massive success of pre-summer releases “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Fate of the Furious.” But the summer tells a different story. Except for Disney-Marvel’s successful “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” the box office has seen a string of disappointments, including “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “Baywatch.”
“Wonder Woman” should perform far above the box office winner for the same weekend of 2016, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” which crawled back into its shell after opening to $35 million. It may also eclipse Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” for the top domestic debut by a film directed by a woman. “Fifty Shades” opened with $85 million on Feb. 13-15, 2015.