Warner Bros. blockbuster “Wonder Woman 1984” topped the domestic box office for the third weekend in a row, but ticket sales fell off dramatically amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The superhero action flick starring Gal Gadot reeled in $3 million between Friday and Sunday, bringing its total in the US and Canada to nearly $33 million, which marked a 47 percent drop in sales, according to ticket sales tracker Box Office Mojo. Overseas, the movie nabbed almost $5 million for a foreign tally of $99 million, bringing its overall haul to $131 million globally.
Even though the movie has outperformed most pandemic-era rivals at the box office, experts say it won’t make up for the film’s hefty $200 million production budget, and it will lose money for the studio.
Parent company WarnerMedia made a controversial bet to make “Wonder Woman,” which premiered in cinemas on Christmas Day, simultaneously available on its streaming service, HBO Max. The company also said it was putting its entire 2021 slate of films on HBO Max, in order to bolster the nascent service and appeal to housebound customers.
The move was met with a mixed reaction. Some felt it was the right decision given the pandemic, while others — including “Tenet” director Christopher Nolan — criticized the move as damaging to the future of the movie industry.
Calling the move a “bait and switch,” Nolan slammed the decision in the press, adding: “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service.”
Late last summer, Nolan’s own big-budget spy thriller “Tenet, ” which was released by Warner Bros. in theaters during the pandemic, wound up grossing a disappointing $58 million domestically, and $305 million, internationally. For many studios, it became a cautionary tale, showing the fragility of the box office during COVID.
Although “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins agreed broadly with Nolan, she also said that the coronavirus left the studio with “no good option.”
“If you had told me a year ago that we would ever go straight to streaming in any way, shape or form, I would have flipped out,” Jenkins said on SiriusXM last month. “It’s such a crazy year. It’s like all of us are trying to figure out with our lives, how to do everything the best we can. And so I kept saying there is no good option. Like when we would talk about it, there was no good option.”