Just days before its debut, “Wonder Woman” is gathering momentum, suggesting it could exceed expectations at the box office — and finally put to rest what analysts say is a tired notion: That audiences are reluctant to see female superheroes on the big screen.
“Wonder Woman” is the most anticipated film of the summer, beating out titles such as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and the latest “Pirates of the Caribbean” installment, an annual survey from ticket-seller Fandango showed this week. Meanwhile, “Wonder Woman” is also one of the most talked-about movies on social media.
The latest tracking figures have “Wonder Woman” hauling in about $65 million in its North American debut this week, but some think that estimate is too conservative. BoxOffice.com currently forecasts a $90 million opening and believes it could be even bigger.
“Strong social media buzz, generational awareness, and notable interest from women alongside the usual fan audience are driving our expectations beyond previously conservative levels,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “A domestic opening close to $100 million is looking more and more possible, and that may not even be the ceiling at this point.”
With an estimated $120 million production budget, “Wonder Woman” is the biggest bet yet on a film featuring a standalone female superhero. Studios have not gambled on a major release on a super-heroine since Twentieth Century Fox’s “Elektra” and Warner Bros.’ “Catwoman” — both of which bombed more than a decade ago.
“The way Patty Jenkins has directed this, there’s just so much depth to it. You feel that somebody really loves this character and understands her dynamic, her point of view”
At least some influential executives have taken that to heart. In a 2014 email made public in a massive breach of Sony’s communications, then Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter highlighted these failures, though the context of his comments was unclear.
Alisha Grauso, editor-at-large at genre website Movie Pilot, said studio executives have long been out of step with the fan community on this point. At the same time Hollywood has simply failed to make good films based on women superheroes, it has been more forgiving of male-focused movies, she said.
“You also have male-led superhero movies that bombed as well, but they kept getting made,” Grauso told CNBC.
“But when a female-led superhero movie flopped, it’s because, ‘Oh, people don’t want to see a female-led superhero movie.'”