The superheroine film Wonder Woman 1984 opened to a disappointing US$18.8 million (S$25.1 million) in China over the weekend, earning US$38.5 million from its overall overseas box office takings.
Entertainment publication Variety reported that the film’s Chinese box-office numbers under-performed compared with the 2017 first film in the franchise – Wonder Woman – which grossed US$38 million in its opening weekend and eventually made US$90.5 million over its run in China.
China is one of the only major movie-going markets where activities have largely returned to normal amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, but revenues were still down by 30 per cent.
The movie, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot in the title role, opened in Singapore last Thursday and has grossed more than $1.8 million locally since. The movie will open in cinemas in the United States on Christmas Day, with a simultaneous debut on HBO Max – the streaming service affiliated with the movie’s studio Warner Bros.
Warner Bros previously announced that its entire 2021 slate of new movies, including hotly anticipated blockbusters like The Matrix 4 and Dune, will have a same-day release in both theatres and on HBO Max in the US. The news came as a shock to the film and exhibition industry, prompting sharp criticism from directors like Christopher Nolan.
The controversial release strategy has been seen as a bid to draw more subscribers to HBO Max against more formidable rival streaming services Disney+ and Netflix. The pandemic has shuttered theatres and devastated movie-going across the US. According to a Bloomberg report, only 34 per cent of North American theatres are open now.
Nolan’s expensive action thriller Tenet – also from Warner Bros – opened only in theatres earlier this year to lukewarm box-office numbers.
Bloomberg reported that Tenet grossed US$380,000 this weekend in 38 markets including the US and Canada, for a cumulative total of US$362.2 million. Its reported budget is around US$200 million, excluding marketing costs.