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.