When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament for 2017, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.
Wonder Woman seems a sure bet in hindsight, but before Patty Jenkins directed Gal Gadot to blockbuster status, there seemed a reason studios put capes mostly on men, because it was thought they were the rabid fan base that camped out early and came back often and made huge opening weekends. Would women react the same way when it was their turn? In the run up to Wonder Woman, we could see the volume of women, young girls — and yes, even men — who dressed in the star spangled outfit and golden wrist bands at Comic-Con, and greeted Jenkins and Gadot with a rousing reception every time they opened their mouths.
Warner Bros and DC’s gamble paid off, helped by a page borrowed from the Marvel playbook. Wonder Woman made her debut safely and proved a bright spot in Zack Snyder’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. Snyder gets credit for handpicking Fast and Furious co-star and Israeli supermodel Gal Gadot for the title role; she infused Wonder Woman with charm, vivaciousness and bravado. Jenkins took it from there, making Wonder Woman fun and free of the darkness and angst that Snyder infused in Batman v. Superman, causing that film to be considered something that die-hard superhero fans had to endure as opposed to be entertained. The dichotomy between the success of Wonder Woman and the estimated $60M loss (per our sources) on Justice League caused an overhaul at DC films. WB exec Jon Berg, who spearheaded DC superheroes with Geoff Johns, exited for a producer deal and was replaced by Walter Hamada, well regarded for steering genre at New Line. After 12 years of trying, with Joel Silver and Joss Whedon in the mix, Warner Bros not only found a way for Wonder Woman to live up to her promise; her success will influence the tone of the array of DC properties headed to the screen as Warner Bros tries to emulate Marvel’s superhero success.
THE BOX SCORE
Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:
THE BOTTOM LINE
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice generated more in overall revenues than Wonder Woman, $681.5M to $659.1M. But Jenkins’ movie yields an astounding 139% more in profit with $252.9M. Snyder’s participation-heavy superhero showdown only netted $105.7M. Not only did Wonder Woman have a lower production cost ($149M to BvS‘ $250M), but also combined participations and residuals were much lower at $38.5M, compared with BvS‘ $80.3M which went to Synder, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill. One thing is for certain: that line item will grow for Jenkins and Gadot on Wonder Woman 2, which opens November 1, 2019. Jenkins is reportedly earning a historic payday for a female director on the sequel with an estimated $7M-$9M before her back-end kicks in, compared to the $1M she cashed for the first installment.