MONDAY UPDATE, writethru after Sunday 10:08AM post: Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman 1984 in 32 international box office markets this weekend has opened to an estimated $38.5M from 30,221 screens. This is well below the $60M the industry was expecting ahead of the launch, and is largely down to a soft China debut of $18.8M in what was a slow Middle Kingdom moviegoing weekend overall. There were also sudden market closures over the past several days overseas which did not help.
In IMAX, the Gal Gadot-starrer grossed $5M from 31 markets. Of that, $3.8M came from 680 screens in China. IMAX is also citing standout performances in Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, UAE and Ukraine.
Overall behind China, the best opening markets were Taiwan with $3.6M on 296 screens, Thailand ($2M/602), Brazil ($1.7M/1,812), Japan ($1.6M/736), Mexico ($1.6M/2,969), Singapore ($1.3M/132), UK ($.2M/615), Spain ($1.1M/813), UAE ($1M/200), Saudi Arabia ($1M/150) and Vietnam ($832K/660).
Many of the above were No. 1 starts that dominated their respective markets (Japan still has Demon Slayer in the lead). All Latin America bows ranked No.1 and marked the widest industry release for 2020 in like-for-likes. In the case of Mexico, WW84 is tracking as the biggest post-pandemic opening, topping Croods 2, The Witches and Tenet — although movie theaters have now been re-shuttered in Mexico City.
Reviews and reactions outside China have been solid, but as we noted all weekend (see below), the lack of WW84 pick-up in the Middle Kingdom remains the biggest issue. Critical and social scores were not good, with the length of the film and lack of action cited as concerns. There has also been discussion about soft marketing. The previous film opened to $38.7M in China and went on to gross $90.5M. This one will do $30M, maybe.
The family audience bump did not materialize over the weekend with a 23% increase on Saturday versus what’s usually about 50% for a major movie, and then Sunday dropped 37%. It is fair to say this was a sluggish weekend overall in China where Dante Lam’s local actioner The Rescue was No. 1 with $36.1M (his last film opened to $73M). Then there’s the issue of piracy given WW84 will be available from December 25 on HBO Max domestically. Hackers could certainly hamper legs while China next weekend is getting a bunch of new movies including Shock Wave 2.
This week will see Diana Prince swing into nine additional markets including Korea and Australia.
Japan’s Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train through Sunday has grossed 31.17B yen ($300.4M) in that market alone after 66 days. Had Toho not trued up its figures on Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away last week to include a summer re-release this year, Demon Slayer would have already surpassed it to become the biggest movie ever at the Japanese box office. As it stands through Sunday, there is only about 510M yen ($4.9M) separating the two. Demon Slayer will overtake the 2001 Oscar winner imminently.
Elsewhere, DreamWorks Animation/Universal’s The Croods: A New Age grossed $3.2M internationally this weekend. That lifts the offshore cume to $57.5M and worldwide to $84.5M. China, where the movie has strong word of mouth and is the only pure major family play, is the lead market for Croods 2. The gross through Sunday is $49.8M (-61%). Mexico is now at $1.7M after two frames, although it will have been impacted this weekend by the Mexico City closures.
In other cumes, WB’s The Witches now has $24M in 32 markets overseas; Superintelligence is at $3M with the next round of releases in January; and Tenet has an offshore cume of $304.3M for $362.2M global.
Local titles this session also include Sony’s Russian comedy Obratnaya Svyaz (Feedback) which launched at No. 1 with $1.1M from 1,500+ screens. The film is the sequel to Russia’s remake of Italian smash Perfect Strangers and reunites the seven friends in a country house for a New Year’s Eve celebration full of surprises.
A very sluggish, Covid-impacted Korea was again led by Josée which has now grossed $1.14M. The state of the market is going to be another hindrance to WW84 this week.
Among new pics releasing this week alongside Shock Wave 2 in China are Disney/Pixar’s Soul and local title The Yin Yang Master. Elsewhere, Croods 2 travels to Spain, Russia and Australia.
As well as the fresh Mexico City closures, other markets currently shut include a large swath of the UK, and all of France, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Things are not looking up for Wonder Woman 1984 in China, and mixed with ongoing uncertainty in other markets, this is driving the offshore opening weekend estimate well lower than where the industry saw it coming into the session.
The Warner Bros/DC sequel had a roughly 23% increase in China on Saturday for an estimated $14.2M in the market through today. As we noted yesterday, this is coming in lower than expected with social and critical scores below the previous movie which opened to about $38M and went on to gross $90.5M in the Middle Kingdom. The hoped-for Saturday family bump did not materialize, and this is pushing the full weekend launch down to around $35M at the international box office, give or take.
China overall is a bit sluggish this frame, and is led by local title The Rescue ($26.6M through Saturday), but WW84’s performance remains somewhat confounding. China box office has bounced back well from the pandemic, so it doesn’t seem coronavirus is the culprit here.
There is online chatter about marketing not having been sufficient. As we understand it in China, there was a “Power of Wonder” campaign that asked people to share inspirational messages on social, with a chance to win prizes and see the messages used in digital outdoor and bus stop creatives; as well as a virtual premiere event in five cinemas with talent able to speak directly with fans before they watched the film. Special screenings hosted by authors and influencers were also organized to create additional content about the impact this year has had and the “wonder power” needed to get through. But these initiatives have evidently not translated to turnstiles.
WW84 is also debuting this weekend in another 31 offshore markets including the UK, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. Not likely to help matters for the Patty Jenkins-directed superhero pic is the shutdown of cinemas in Mexico City from today for another three weeks. And just within the last few hours, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a new “stay at home” order covering London and much of the south and east of England (cinemas in London were already a no-go zone).
As noted yesterday, many in exhibition questioned the international rollout on WW84 given ongoing uncertainty over the pandemic’s effects on movie theaters. Still, also as noted yesterday, it would have been difficult to predict that nearly all of the European majors would be closed down this weekend.
Warner Bros will report international box office figures on Sunday, and we’ll report back with more analysis.
PREVIOUS, FRIDAY: Warner Bros/DC’s Wonder Woman 1984, as expected, landed at No. 2 in its China debut on Friday, coming in behind local actioner The Rescue. The Patty Jenkins-helmed sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman grossed an estimated RMB 44.2M ($7M, including sneaks). This portends a weekend in the mid $20M range for the Middle Kingdom, lower than where the industry was seeing it heading into the session, thus also pushing down the full international box office launch.
WW84 has some factors working against it in China where The Rescue (RMB 85.8M/$13M Friday) was given a strong 9.3 audience score on Maoyan despite early buzz that the movie was not up to par with director Dante Lam’s previous outings. WW84 is carrying an 8 versus the first film’s 8.6. On critics aggregator Douban, WW84 has a 6.8, lower than the original’s 7.1. The Gal Gadot-starrer, which opens day-and-date in theaters and on HBO Max domestically on December 25, conversely has a fresh Rotten Tomatoes score of 88%.
We hear that subsidized ticketing on The Rescue in China may have negatively impacted WW84 on Friday. In the early hours of Saturday locally, the two films are nearly tied for the day. In terms of pre-sales, WW84 is ahead on Sunday. The hope for Diana Prince is that the family audience comes out over the rest of the weekend.
Is piracy a factor here, in that a part of the overseas audience knows the movie will likely be available in a high-quality version once it drops online domestically next week? The jury is out, for the moment, on that, but industry sources tell us it has to be a concern.
While WarnerMedia is currently in the crosshairs of many in the business given the 2021 theatrical/day-and-date bombshell two weeks ago, WB earlier boldly released Tenet into the open offshore markets which now have generated over $300M. The timing on WW84 is a bit different as many in exhibition questioned it given ongoing uncertainty over the pandemic. Still, it would have been difficult to predict that nearly all of the European majors would be closed down this weekend. And China, where a studio does not determine its date and where a wrench can be thrown into the proceedings at any point, is not up to the studios.
Other markets are in play this weekend, including WW’s best ex-China hub, Brazil, so we’ll see how this plays out.
Warner Bros will not report international grosses until Sunday, and that same hope for families in the Middle Kingdom is also the case for the other markets where WW84 is opening this session. Overall, the disappointing China start is looking to set the offshore debut at around $45M, versus the $60M the industry was expecting.